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Racetrack employees closer to pension plan

May 07, 2001

Racetrack employees closer to pension plan



By DAVE McMILLION / Staff Writer


CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - It appears backstretch employees at the Charles Town Races will get a pension plan, a track official said Friday.

A bill passed recently by the West Virginia Legislature would set aside funding for the pension plan, said Dick Watson, president of the Horsemens Benevolent and Protective Association.

Under the bill, $500,000 would be taken from the horsemen's purse fund at Charles Town and Mountaineer Park in Chester, W.Va. to fund the pension plan, Watson said.

Watson said it is a big step forward for backstretch workers.

"The backstretch people have not had any incentive to look forward to," Watson said.

The bill is awaiting Gov. Bob Wise's signature. Watson said he doesn't know of any reason why Wise would not sign it.

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Wise spokeswoman Amy Shuler Goodwin said she is aware of the bill but could not provide any details Friday.

The bill also sets up pension and disability benefits for jockeys, Watson said.

Some jockeys were able to get pension benefits from the Jockeys Guild, but sometimes it is only partial benefits, Watson said.

Watson said he is not sure how that plan and the new plan drafted by the Legislature compare.

Under the bill, the pension and disability plan will be funded with $350,000 generated through uncashed pari-mutuel tickets, Watson said.

The funding is not guaranteed, Watson said. It depends on whether $350,000 is generated, Watson said.

To qualify for the program a jockey must have 100 mounts a year, and 51 of those must be in the state, Watson said.

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