Horse Racing Faces the Hard Market

By O'Rourke, Morgan | Risk Management, September 2003 | Go to article overview

Horse Racing Faces the Hard Market


O'Rourke, Morgan, Risk Management


When racehorse War Emblem retired from competition last year, it was widely assumed that the 2002 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner would have a lucrative career at stud. Japan's Shadai Stallion Station purchased the horse for more than $17 million and proceeded to book some two hundred mares for mating with him.

After covering only six mares, however, War Emblem lost interest and refused to continue. The farm was unsuccessful in attempts to encourage him, so they turned to their insurers in an attempt to recoup their investment. Although War Emblem suffered only from disinterest and not infertility, three of the four companies that insured the horse under a stallion infertility policy agreed to pay Shadai approximately $13.3 million. Such costly infertility claims, however, have made it difficult for owners to find insurance, especially given the hard market facing the entire industry.

On the horsemen's side, which includes jockeys, trainers and owners, workers' compensation has become the overwhelming concern.

"It is an ongoing problem around the country, most prominently in California," says Remi Bellocq, executive director of the National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA). "In many states horseman can't purchase workers' compensation anymore. …

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