Citing philosophical differences with the organization, jockey Pat Day has resigned as president and as a member of The Jockeys' Guild. "There is a distinct philosophical difference that prohibits me from any longer being a part of the organization," Day told bloodhorse.com Tuesday.
Saying only that he had sent his letter of resignation to the board last Thursday, June 21, Day declined to say what the philosophical differences were or how long they had been present. The resignation was effective immediately, Day said. "It is a distinct philosophical difference," the third-leading rider in American racing history said.
The Guild's executive board will vote on an acting president to replace Day, with sentiment leaning toward Quarter Horse jockey Tomey Swan, currently the Guild's vice president representing the West region.
Day's resignation is the latest in a series of major changes for the Guild, which represents approximately 800 riders. Health insurance coverage for the Guild's members ended April 1 because the Guild could not pay the premiums after a 43% rate increase. National manager John Giovanni recently left after announcing he would not seek re-election to the position and the Guild brought in a California- based management firm to oversee the organization. The Guild also terminated the employment of its six Lexington, Ky. office workers and six regional managers.
Giovanni's departure and the decision to terminate the Guild's staff apparently is fallout from the inability of the organization to pay the health insurance premiums. Life and disability insurance coverage were unaffected and remain in force.
A representative of Matrix Capital Associates, the management firm brought in to run the Guild, said the Guild's board "decided the existing way of doing business was not getting it done."
"The problem with the finances is that the Guild had been losing money for a number of years, which is normally not a problem for a non-profit organization," said Matrix Capital's Thomas Brondum, "except they can't do that for very long, or they won't be in business. They had not reached that point. But it had gotten to the point that when the insurance premiums went up, they did not have enough to keep the coverage."
Brondum said the Guild's board had been working on the financial and health insurance problems when Giovanni announced he would not seek re-election and Matrix was brought in. Brondum said Matrix, which is in the process of organizing the Guild's records and finances, will manage the Guild at least through the next fiscal quarter. "We may indeed become the permanent management operation," he said.
Brondum emphasized that there has been no indication of anything illegal involving the Guild's finances or operations. "We have not found a problem in a legal sense," he said.
He also wanted to reassure Guild members and their families that the life and disability insurance policies are intact and that every attempt is being made to find the funds to restore the health insurance. "We have received a lot of calls about the life and disability insurance. We are not changing anything except the staff," Brondum said. "Our goal is to get their insurance back."
Jockey Chris McCarron, a Guild member who was involved with locating Matrix to run the organization, said he had not talked to Day about his decision to quit the Guild. "I have not had a chance to really digest what is going on as far as Pat is concerned," said McCarron.
McCarron said he is confident the Guild's problems will be rectified and that the health insurance coverage will be restored. "I am very confident things are going to be OK," McCarron said. "The health insurance is the most important thing because there are a number of members out there who are in very precarious situations."