Velazquez Discusses National Manager Hire, Guild's Relationship With Horsemen

By Claire Novak
Jockeys' Guild chairman John Velazquez and other board members from the organization met Monday to discuss the June 26 selection of California sports agent Dwight Manley as the Guild's national manager. Velazquez, speaking about Guild issues for the first time since mid-June, said Tuesday the organization's main objective remains to work with horsemen in a positive manner.

"Our position is to be counted as a partner," Velazquez said. "We want to work together with the industry."

And despite Manley's lack of racing industry experience, Guild leaders believe his background in management qualifies him for the position. Manley has represented high-profile clients and NBA standouts like Dennis Rodman and Karl Malone.

"We respected all of the candidates--we were very impressed with each one," Velazquez said. "We voted to hire Dwight Manley because he's a good businessman. He knows about handling organizations, he has a good background in sports; he's a positive asset to the Guild."

Responding to protests over the involvement of the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who Manley said would work as co-chair under his management, Velazquez said Jackson wouldn't be in a position to control the organization.

"We didn't vote to hire Jesse Jackson," he said. "(Jackson) is an advisor to Mr. Manley."

While Velazquez was generally unable to discuss contractual details, he stated that Manley is seeking 5% of Guild revenue, not 15% as originally reported. The Eclipse Award-winning jockey said lawyers are moving forward with the hiring process.

"They're working on the contract," he said. "That's the next step."