The Jockeys' Guild Annual Assembly, sponsored by Betfair, was held in Las Vegas Dec. 9 and covered a variety of issues affecting both Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse riders. The assembly opened with remarks by Terry Meyocks, President and CEO of the Jockeys' Guild who said, “Jockeys are integral part of racing and must have a seat at the table in all industry discussions that will affect their ability to do their job and earn a living.”
The morning's agenda covered Jockeys' Guild social media and the development of an app which will help increase communication within the organization as well an update on the retirement account where jockeys can contribute. Other topics covered included updates on the Sports Medicine Research Institute (SMRI) with the University of Kentucky. It was noted that more jockeys are needed for the research and riders can contact the University of Kentucky to volunteer when they are in Lexington.
The afternoon session was an open discussion titled, “Working together for the betterment of our industry”, with members of racetrack management including Scott Wells of Remington and Lone Star Park, Dan Bork of Ellis Park and Churchill Downs, Gary Palmisano of Churchill Downs, Bob Elliston of Keeneland, Jeff True from Riudoso Downs, Larry Swartzlander of Northern California Fairs and former racetrack executive Corey Johnsen.
With the industry focused on equine safety, Guild leaders expressed their frustration to track executives that while jockeys' lives are at stake and they are the last line of defense for horse's safety, their input is not being heard or considered as many initiatives are being implemented. The Guild was also not included in the formation of The Thoroughbred Safety Coalition, which is pushing for major industry reforms. ob Elliston of Keeneland assured the Guild and its members that the jockeys would be an important voice and part of the conversation going forward.
A number of suggestions were also made about how management and jockeys can work together including media training for jockeys and educating the public to help grow our industry and improve public perception.