The Jockeys' Guild wrapped up its annual assembly Dec. 7 with the announcement that the contract of Matrix Capital Associates, headed by Dr. Wayne Gertmenian, has been extended through 2009. In addition, jockey Kent Desormeaux, who has said he was conducting due diligence into Guild business practices, failed to win re-election to the Guild senate and no longer sits on the executive committee.
Tomey Jean Swan, the former Guild chairman who was elected as one of two vice chairmen, told reporters late in the afternoon that the Matrix contract had been extended. The executive committee has strongly supported Matrix and Gertmenian in the face of intense controversy generated by former Guild members who have lawsuits pending over the organization's finances and other issues.
Swan quickly briefed reporters at the Embassy Suites hotel in Irving, Texas, and returned to a meeting. Almost two hours before, Gertmenian told reporters he had another meeting to attend and couldn't comment. Later, through Bob Schick, a marketing consultant for the Guild, he released the following statement: "There will be no comment today."
The new chairman of the Guild is David Shepherd, who previously served as vice chairman. Along with Swan and Shepherd, re-elected to the executive committee were Abad Cabassa, G.R. Carter, Casey Lambert, Brian Peck, and Larry Reynolds. New members of the committee are Jeff Johnston and John Velazquez.
Swan said the Guild made a change this year in having two vice chairmen. Velazquez is the other one.
From the previous executive committee, Desormeaux and Ray Sibille are gone. Sibille has retired, according to Guild officials.
Desormeaux was on hand for the Guild assembly Dec. 6-7. He left before the conclusion of the meetings and couldn't be immediately reached for comment.
Elected or re-elected to the 27-member senate were Gary Boulanger, Carter, John Grabowski, Mark Guidry, Jerry La Sala, Reynolds, Swan, Velazquez, and Jose Velez Jr. The Guild said Robbie Davis and Ron Warren Jr. had retired.
Nine seats are open each year on the senate, whose members are elected by delegates from each racetrack. The senate then votes on the executive committee, which then elects officers. The other officers are Johnston, who will serve as treasurer, and Lambert, who will serve as secretary.
On Dec. 6, the executive committee, of which Desormeaux was a member, unanimously voted former treasurer Eddie King out of the Guild. King has a lawsuit pending against the organization. Other officials who have been expelled from the Guild are Robert Colton, who also has a lawsuit pending, and Deirdre Panas, who at one time was secretary.
Shepherd, in a recent interview with The Blood-Horse
, said he believed the controversy would only serve to strengthen support for Gertmenian. His comments proved correct, and Gertmenian appears to have been successful with his calls for solidarity.
During proceedings on Dec. 6, Guild members were instructed not to talk to the press, so details have been scarce. It wasn't clear whether Gertmenian planned to talk to reporters at a later time, though a statement from the Guild was said to be forthcoming. A press release sent late in the day didn't include a statement from Gertmenian.
On the first day of the assembly, Walter Cullum, a member of the Guild, repeatedly peppered Liz Mullen, a reporter with Sports Business Journal
who he claimed had written false information about the Guild. He also got in the face of a photographer hired by The Blood-Horse
to cover the event.
On Dec. 7, Cullum continued to fire verbal volleys at Mullen, and gave the photographer, Tim Sharp, the finger before he left the hotel. Guild officials weren't immediately available to comment on whether they condoned Cullum's behavior.