03/26/2014 1:44PM

Turf Paradise: Jockeys' walkout ends as track increases insurance coverage


Racing was set to resume at Turf Paradise on Wednesday after the track bought additional insurance that will cover riders for up to $1 million in medical bills in the event of a catastrophic accident.

Darrell Haire, a representative of the Jockeys’ Guild, said Wednesday morning that jockeys had decided they would ride the Wednesday card because of the additional insurance. On Tuesday, jockeys refused to ride after demanding that Turf Paradise increase its insurance coverage from $500,000 to $1 million.

“They assured us this morning that they had bought the additional policy,” Haire said. “The riders have all said they are going to ride today.”

The trigger for the Tuesday walkout was an accident March 11 at Turf Paradise that left a 43-year-old rider, Ann Von Rosen, paralyzed. According to officials, Von Rosen’s total medical costs have already exceeded $500,000. She is scheduled to begin rehabilitation Thursday at the Craig Hospital, a Denver clinic that specializes in spinal-cord injuries.

Vincent Francia, the general manager of Turf Paradise, said Wednesday that the additional insurance purchased this week would cover riders for the remainder of the track’s current meet, which ends May 6.

“This will take us through the end of the race meet, and what we will do this summer is shop around among the various insurance providers to get a new policy covering up to $1 million” for the 2014-15 meet, Francia said.

Management first met with representatives of the track’s riding colony and Haire on Tuesday morning to discuss the jockeys’ demands. Although track officials said they assured the riders that they would purchase additional insurance at the meeting, the riders said they would not ride Tuesday without an additional insurance policy in place, leading to the cancellation, which was announced only several hours prior to post time.

“The riders understand the situation,” said Haire, who flew to Phoenix on Tuesday morning. “It’s dangerous out there, and they accept that. But these guys have children and families, and they can’t go out there knowing that they can get financially ruined along with their physical injuries.”

Turf Paradise runs on a Saturday-through-Wednesday schedule.

Jerry Simms, the owner of Turf Paradise, provided $43,000 to Von Rosen to allow her to be admitted to the Craig Hospital, according to Francia and the jockeys. The track is scheduled to hold a fundraiser for Von Rosen on April 12 as part of its Fan Appreciation Day.