LOUISVILLE - A fund aimed at helping permanently disabled jockeys is nearly broke, meaning nearly five dozen jockeys will not get payments they expect this month, the head of the Jockeys' Guild said yesterday.
Dwight Manley, manager of the Jockeys' Guild, said the program is operating month to month because of a lack of support from horsemen and others in the industry. That means 58 jockeys who get funds through the program will not receive the $1,000 payment each is scheduled to get in April, Manley said.
"These are people, and $1,000 a month to these people is vital," Manley said.
Just before the 2006 Preakness, the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund was announced as a non-profit charity established by tracks, horsemen's organizations, jockeys and the National Thoroughbred Racing Association.
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The fund, administered through NTRA Charities, is intended to supplement other payments to disabled riders, such as Social Security. The payments cost about $800,000 a year, Guild officials said.
Manley said a long-term solution to the fund's problems is necessary, but first the tracks and groups that have committed money or have not given to the fund need to get it back to solvency.
"I don't know what the solution is," said Manley, a sports agent who took over the Guild last summer. "It's everybody in this multibillion-dollar industry."
Remi Bellocq, executive director of the National Horsemen's Benevolent & Protective Association, said Manley is casting blame instead of trying to solve the problem of caring for injured jockeys.
The Benevolent & Protective Association collects money from its affiliates, but some are small and cannot donate as much as the guild would like.
"At the end of the day, throwing around blame doesn't help anybody," Bellocq said.
Bellocq said the association is putting together a plan for a more secure, long-term funding source for the disabled jockeys, but he would not elaborate.
"We're committed to working on a more long-term solution," he said. "I'll just leave it at that for now."
The fund will get a temporary boost with the sale of the saddle worn by Barbaro when the 3-year-old colt won the 2006 Kentucky Derby.
Edgar Prado, the jockey who rode Barbaro, has donated the saddle to an auction, with the funds raised going to the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund.
The saddle, also used by Prado while winning the 2002 and 2004 Belmont Stakes, will be auctioned off at the Mint Jubilee Gala on May 4, the night before this year's Derby.
"Barbaro was one of the greatest horses to ever run the Derby," Prado said. "I only used the saddle for major races."
Prado was aboard the 3-year-old colt during last year's Preakness Stakes when Barbaro broke down in the front stretch after injuring his right hind leg. Because of complications from his injury, Barbaro was euthanized in January.
Manley said the auction is expected to raise "a significant amount" of money for the fund.