Ozone Park, NY - November 7, 2014 - Facilitating new access to affordable health insurance coverage, the New York Racing Association today announced a formal agreement with the Jockeys' Guild which extends formal health care coverage to New York State Thoroughbred jockeys. Approved by the New York State Gaming Commission, the New York Racing Association will administer the new program which will debut in late November.
As recommended by the New York Task Force on Jockey Health and Safety, included in the state's 2014-15 budget was legislation setting aside a dedicated funding stream for the program. This dedicated funding stream will fund the health insurance program, which is expected to cover 50-75 current and former jockeys.
To be eligible, jockeys must have ridden in at least 250 races at Aqueduct racetrack, Belmont Park or Saratoga Race course during the prior year, or 150 races at Finger Lakes Racetrack. The program also covers certain disabled and retired jockeys. Thoroughbred jockeys in New York meeting these requirements will be eligible for reimbursements for their 2014 health expenses. Thereafter, in 2015 and beyond, Thoroughbred jockeys will purchase and be reimbursed for health insurance purchased on the exchange operated in New York under the new national health care program.
Until this law was passed earlier this year, there was no mechanism to fund health insurance for riders who are based in New York. New York now joins other states such as Delaware, California, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey offering financial assistance toward jockey health insurance.
"The New York Racing Association is proud to assist in facilitating health insurance options for New York jockeys," stated Christopher Kay, Chief Executive Officer and President of the New York Racing Association. "Consistent with Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's goal of expanding health care insurance coverage to more New Yorkers, the New York Racing Association worked with the Governor and legislative leaders to further strengthen the safety net for our jockeys."
"The Jockeys' Guild sincerely appreciates Governor Cuomo, Senate Majority Co-Leaders Skelos and Klein, Assembly Speaker Silver, and Anthony Bonomo, the Chair of the New York Task Force on Jockey Health and Safety, for bringing New York up to the level of other racing jurisdictions," said Terry Meyocks, National Manager of the Guild. "We look forward to continuing our working relationship with the racing industry in New York to assure that our riders have the safest environment possible."
John Velazquez, Chairman of the Guild, reiterated "the jockeys who regularly ride in New York deeply appreciate the work by Governor Cuomo, legislative leaders, Dean Skelos, Jeff Klein and Shelly Silver, as well as NYRA Board member Anthony Bonomo to create a jockey health plan for qualifying New York riders."
The New York Task Force on Jockey Health and Safety was formed in 2013 to investigate issues involving the health and safety of jockeys racing in New York, and charged with issuing recommendations for jockey benefits and how they could best be provided through the resources of the racing industry. Chairing the Task Force was New York Racing Association Board member Anthony J. Bonomo, with its members comprising Hall of Fame rider John Velazquez, former jockey Ramon Dominguez, Alan Foreman, Nancy C. Kelly and David P. Leno.
About the New York Racing Association
NYRA's mission is "Meeting the highest standards in thoroughbred racing and equine safety." Founded in 1955, and franchised to run thoroughbred racing at New York's three major tracks (Aqueduct Racetrack, Belmont Park, and Saratoga Race Course) through 2033, NYRA boasts a lineage that actually stretches back almost 150 years. NYRA tracks are the cornerstone of the state's thoroughbred business which contributes more than $2 billion annually to New York State's urban, suburban and rural economy. In 2013, nearly 1.7 million people attended the live races at NYRA tracks. The average daily handle on NYRA races is more than $9 million, factoring in nationwide off-track wagering.
About the Guild
Jockeys' Guild, Inc., the organization representing professional jockeys in Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing in the United States, was founded in May 1940 and has approximately 1150 members, including active, retired and disabled jockeys. The purpose is to protect jockeys, strive to achieve a safer racing environment, to obtain improved insurance and other benefits for members and to monitor developments in local, state and federal laws affecting the racing industry, and in particular, the jockeys. For more information, visit their website and Facebook.