Jockeys’ Guild: Gaming company tracks ‘worst deadbeats’

by | 01.31.2013 | 2:08pm
Penn National Race Course in Grantville, Pa.

During the Annual Assembly in Hollywood, Florida, the membership of the Jockeys' Guild has named its list of Worst Deadbeats.  These are the horse racing track operators which are most insensitive to jockey health and safety issues.
“Since 1968, the majority of track operators have contributed to the Guild to help pay for needed member benefits,” said Terry Meyocks, National Manager of the Jockeys' Guild.  “However, none of these Deadbeats currently contributes to the Guild for members' temporary disability benefits, life insurance, AD&D insurance and health care subsidies for qualifying active riders, as well as supplemental assistance for the Guild's permanently disabled riders.

“And while these are not the only tracks not contributing to help our jockeys, we are listing those operators whose inaction is, in our opinion, most egregious,” added Meyocks.  “Legislators, regulators and the public all need to know that these tracks are shirking their responsibilities.”

Penn National Gaming Inc. (PNGI) leads the list, according to the Guild.  Its race tracks include Hollywood Casino at Charles Town in Charles Town, West Virginia; Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course in Grantville, Pennsylvania; Beulah Park in Grove City, Ohio; Zia Park in Hobbs, New Mexico; and 50% ownership of Sam Houston Race Park in Houston, Texas.
“PNGI leads the list because it has the most tracks and in my opinion, has made it clear that it cares about only one thing, casino gaming,” said Meyocks.  “Various news reports over the years have documented serious safety issues both for riders and horses at PNGI tracks.”
“Most of these Deadbeat track operators have one thing in common,” added Meyocks. “Most have racinos. They know they cannot get a casino license without horse racing. However, we believe that once they get their license, they focus most of their attention on the casinos and downplay racing. This concerns us greatly.”
The Deadbeat list is as follows:
1.    Penn National Gaming Inc. (Hollywood Casino at Charles Town (WV); Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course (PA), Beulah Park (OH), Sam Houston Race Park (TX) and Zia Park (NM));

2.    Harrah's, (Louisiana Downs (LA); Thistledown (OH); and part interest in Turfway Park, (KY));

3.    Boyd Gaming Corporation (Delta Downs (LA) and Evangeline Downs (LA));

4.    MTR Gaming Group (Mountaineer Racetrack (WV) and Presque Isle Downs (PA));

5.    New Centaur Gaming, operators of Indiana Downs Racing & Casino (IN);

6.    Monmouth Park (NJ);

7.    Los Alamitos Race Course (CA);

8.    Ellis Park (KY);

9.    Ruidoso Downs (NM);

10.  Turf Paradise (AZ).

Not all of the Deadbeat track operators have gaming operations.  Monmouth Park, in Oceanport, New Jersey, contributed for years.  However, last year when horsemen took over the track operations, they discontinued contributing. “Stopping the contributions is a sad way to repay jockeys for keeping a quality product at their race track,” added Meyocks.
In addition, only two of the 18 tracks owned by these track operators are accredited by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association Safety and Integrity Alliance. The Alliance, made up of a variety of professionals in the racing industry, is committed to the standards and practices developed by the NTRA, and members are encouraged to not only meet, but exceed, the set standards.  “The fact that only two of the 18 tracks owned by these Deadbeats are accredited by the Alliance speaks volumes about their level of caring,” added Meyocks.
Guild members also thanked track operators they referred to as The Good Guys. These are the tracks that do contribute to the Guild fund for benefits. The Good Guys list includes large track corporations such as Churchill Downs, Incorporated (Arlington Park, Calder, Churchill Downs and Fair Grounds), NYRA (Aqueduct, Belmont, and Saratoga), and The Stronach Group (Golden Gate, Gulfstream Park, Laurel, Pimlico, Portland Meadows, and Santa Anita Park), as well as Arapahoe, Betfair Hollywood Park, California Authority of Racing Fairs, Del Mar, Finger Lakes, Fonner Park,  Hawthorne, Keeneland, Kentucky Downs, Oaklawn Park, Pomona/Fairplex, Remington Park, Suffolk Downs and Sunland Park.  “Racing fans who enjoy racing at these tracks can be assured that they value the health and welfare of jockeys,'' said Meyocks.  “Members of the Guild appreciate the contributions made by these tracks.''
At the annual Jockeys' Guild Assembly, the Guild's Board of Directors agreed to once again ask all non-contributing tracks to engage in discussions that can lead to improvements and better conditions for jockeys, as well as a long term plan to support disabled riders. “It's time these track operators commit to invest in the health and welfare of jockeys,” said John Velazquez, Chairman of the Jockeys' Guild.  “Right now, the track operators who won't contribute are avoiding their moral responsibility, while the ones who do contribute are carrying the load. We must have guaranteed funding from the industry to help these men and women jockeys with their basic needs.”

  • Herewego

    While it is hard for those in racing to find common ground on many issues I think we can all get behind PNGI topping this list.

  • Larryburndorf

    This is such a nonstory, not everyone loves the jockeys guild, including jockeys.

  • canada forever

    Turf Paradise made it in the top 10  of something! Yeah! Oh wait, nevermind.

  • guest

    sad to see Harrahs in second place. It should be made clear that the Harrah family, who have great interests in the horse business especially in Reno, no longer own the Harrahs Casinos. 

  • a rider at penn national

    No surprise Penn National being on the top of the list!! All they want is their casino an say the hell with the horse industry part!!

  • Bubba

    I thought Jockeys were independent contractors!

  • bob hope

    are these contract violations ???

  • Lou Baranello, Former Steward

    Pinheads again seeking redistribution of assets!  The Guild has no business acumen and, certainly no sense of shame.  On what basis do they think that others should subsidize any part of their operational costs?  When two or three of them decide not to ride and the sheep follow, there is no consideration given to the association’s cost of operating on a non productive day.  The riders simply close down racing and ask people to believe it was done in the interest of safety.  Then they have the gall to ask these same people for a financial handout.  I say that type of behavior indicates a serious lack of character.  I would be remiss if I did not recognize the fact that some of these shut-downs are justified.  Unfortunately on too many occasions, they are not.  I have observed the procedures and listened to the conversation that takes place before these actions.  Calling business entities that refuse to be blackjacked into submission, deadbeats, is a further indication of lack of character and an absence of business acumen.           

  • King of Sports

    The bulk of these gaming companies make no investment in racing and no effort to cross promote or connect racing with their gaming operations. Then they claim no one is interested in racing so they shouldn’t spend any money or resources on it. In many cases, short-sighted horsemen are willing supplicants, so intent on feeding off the gaming trough and preserving purse supplements that they look the other way as no effort is made to promote racing. 

  • Jjvera62

    I was told from an inside source penn national can shut down racing in a few years.  i thought it can not operate w/out racing.He said if the racing side keeps losing money there is an angle to then stop racing.

  • If you’re a former steward, it’s easy to see why racing is in trouble.  Quite the attititude.  I still say jockeys should strike.  Pinheads?  Really?

  • Butchcassidy8504

    Turf Paradise didn’t even have an ambulance last year on track. Not sure if that has changed since…

  • Lorshaver

    So proud to be a Pennsylvania horsewoman…NOT

  • Knowitall

    Pinhead would be a too generous description of your acumen.

  • Lou Baranello, Former Steward

    Ms. Tierney, Some truths are very hard to accept.  I accept your right to disagree, but you haven’t given even one reason why race track operators should subsidize expenses of the Jockeys’ Guild or any individual member.  Your reply suggesting that the riders strike until such time as they prevail in this matter tells me a great deal about you and how you think.  In the event they follow your advice and strike for being denied a subsidy from an entity or entities that are under no obligation to provide such payment, they  will be laughed out of any court room in the country.  And yes, what specifically, is so easily seen that tells you why racing is in trouble?  I am anxious to read your reply.

  • “Bad Guy” rider

    Unfortunately, corporate America asks for the highest yield and the lowest cost when running a business, and class takes a back seat.  There are some people that do care on the  operation end of the race tracks, but they get significant pressure to cut expenses.  When safety takes a back seat to profit, racing is a brutal sport.  Racing would be more productive if we could all work together for the better good.  The Guild does not seem to be the answer though.  They are acting like most unions and worrying about whether or not they get money out of the whole deal.  In fact, that is how they list the “Good Guys” and the “Bad Guys”.  Am I a “Bad Guy” rider because I am not part of the jockey’s guild?  They have a questionable reputation and instead of working to earn the trust of riders they alienate them if they don’t receive a membership check.

  • For years I have given the Jockeys Guild the answer to this year to year case they continue to make.  I have a lot of friends who are jockeys and ex jockeys and the Guild has failed in many ways over the years.  You, the jockeys who ride on Breeders Cup Day, have the answer from within.  Have those fortunate enough to have mounts on the biggest days in the sport donate 1-percent of a winning, or a 1-2 finish, to a fund that would take care of the rest.  Is that asking too much?  I don’t think so.  The rich taking care of those not so fortunate.  Stop this year to year begging.  Like myself, jockeys are independent contractors, and those who are fortunate to make it big do right well.  Stop the begging and do what is right.  

  • Heidi Carpenter

    Many of these tracks aren’t exactly kind to their horses, either.

  • The Ole Man

    The Jockey Guild is kinda rough on Ruidoso;When one considers the amount spent by Hubbard on an injured jockey was in the six figures.That jockey is a disabled rider.Why don’t they just come out and say;These tracks don’t support the Guild itself.

  • Bobw205

    Johnny V needs to keep these deadbeats in front of race fans and we won”t bet these tracks.That should help the cause.

  • The Whiz

    The worst day in racing history is when horsemen and track owners got in bed wuth casino and racino types. The solution was to go to the legislature and tell them we will not request “machines” on our property if we can be granted 2-3% of the gross revenues these casinos generate and if they want to simulcast our product all the better.Unfortunately horsemen saw dollar signs and not the pitfalls both short and long term. Casinos could care less about Horse racing we are just a necessary evil in most cases ie Penn National, Mountainer Park, Presque Isle Downs and others all run by pencil pushing persons who have no background in racing and don’t want to gain any knowledge about the product they have to present in order to have the slots in the first place. I am so glad my career in racing is nearing it’s end and I feel badly for those still blinded by the false hopes being spewed at them by the “Almighty Casinoites”

  • who knows?

    I heard that they have a pickup that puts the injured in the back!! Can that possibly be true? Or even legal with the commission or dept?

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