Jockeys Unite to Demand Change in Leadership

A growing number of jockeys across the United States are demanding the immediate resignation of Wayne Gertmenian president and CEO of the Jockeys' Guild and the termination of any relationship with his management company Matrix Capital Associates.

As of Nov. 11, more than 200 jockeys at 12 race tracks have signed petitions calling for the change.

Attempts to forward the petitions to Gertmenian at the Guild's office in Monrovia, California were slowed Nov. 10 due to the office telephone being disconnected.

The grassroots action comes on the heels of a similar demand made on Nov. 9 by Darrell Haire, the Jockeys' Guild's national member representative and a former jockey.

The appeal was made by jockeys based at racing colonies from coast to coast: Calder (Florida); Charlestown (West Virginia); Finger Lakes (New York); Golden Gate (California); Keeneland (Kentucky); Los Alamitos (California); Santa Anita (California); Laurel/Pimilico (Maryland); Meadow Lands (New Jersey); Philadelphia Park (Pennsylvania); Portland Meadows (Oregon); and Suffolk Downs (Massachusetts). Additional racing colonies are expected today to add their support.

Included in the call for leadership change are some of the top riders in the nation such as Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winners Kent Desormeaux, Gary Stevens, and Jorge Chavez. Also joining the appeal is Russell Baze, who is consistently the leading rider in the nation with most wins.

Other leading riders at tracks across the country have also joined in the demand for change, and more are expected as the movement expands.

Jeff Johnston, Guild treasurer and member of the Senate, said: "I have received petitions from numerous riding colonies across the country demanding the immediate resignation of Dr. Gertmenian. It is the duty of the Board of Directors to respect the views of our members and to do whatever is necessary to keep our organization strong. I join with our members in asking that Dr. Gertmenian step down."

Jockeys' Guild Senator Jose Velez commented: "It is obvious from these letters that the membership of the Jockeys' Guild all around the country have had enough. It is time for Dr. Gertmenian and Matrix to go."

The action by the jockeys is the latest development resulting from a Congressional subcommittee's investigation into Gertmenian's controversial management of the Guild.

An emergency meeting of the Guild's Senate is scheduled for Nov. 15 to consider making sweeping changes in the organization's representation and management.