The Truth about the Jockeys’ Guild and CDI
not written by me and has been trimmed for easy view
Thoroughbred jockeys have one of the most dangerous jobs in sports. Churchill Downs Incorporated understands that, and we are committed to protecting the health and welfare of jockeys that race at our tracks in Kentucky, Florida, Illinois and Louisiana.
The Jockeys’ Guild, a trade organization that represents jockeys, has been saying lots of derogatory things about CDI in the media lately. We have remained silent. But it’s now time the truth be heard about the relationship between the Jockeys’ Guild and CDI, and what’s transpired over the last few months. First, consider what CDI does to help jockeys and the significant costs behind that commitment.
CDI’s commitment to jockey welfare has become an industry best practice through the NTRA Safety & Integrity Alliance’s racetrack accreditation program. CDI’s tracks constitute four of only 12 racetracks nationwide that have completed NTRA re-accreditation so far this year.
In addition to the $2.5 million per year, CDI has helped fund the Guild’s operations by making voluntary contributions to the Guild. Many racetracks that helped fund the Guild through similar agreements stopped doing so in 2005 after the Gertmenian scandal raised questions about how all racetracks’ contributions had been spent. So in 2007, with the Guild facing bankruptcy, CDI agreed to make voluntary contributions of approximately $330,000 per year to the Guild for four years. We entered into that agreement with the understanding that Guild management would get its financial house in order, and in the agreement, we required that the Guild guarantee the following:
1. That all funds voluntarily paid by CDI were used “for the actual and direct benefit of jockeys;” and
2. That CDI racetracks “shall pay no more than the amount paid by any other racetrack to the Guild.”
We believe the Guild has breached these contract terms. We’ve asked the Guild to explain how it spends the money we contribute, including what direct benefits it purchases for jockeys and the actual cost of those benefits. And we’ve asked for data to confirm that we have not been paying more than any other track. We have received no answers.
We will not renew an agreement with the Guild under these terms and have told them so.
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