John Giovanni.

John Giovanni.

Consulting Firm to Manage Jockeys' Guild During Transition Period

The Jockeys' Guild announced Saturday it has acquired the services of Matrix Capital Associates, Inc., a professional management consulting company led by Dr. L. Wayne Gertmenian, to manage the organization's operations, effective immediately.

The action is a result of the announcement Friday that the Guild's longtime national manager, John Giovanni, will retire at the end of his present term.

In Saturday's announcement, the Lexington, Ky.-based Guild said the body faces many challenges and that its executive committee "felt it was of paramount importance to engage the services of a professional management company to ensure its success in meeting these challenges.  Dr. Gertmenian, a distinguished professor of management at Pepperdine University's Graziadio School of Business, is a leading expert on negotiations and economics."

According to the Guild, acquiring proper health insurance for its member jockeys is a major priority.

"Dr. Gertmenian, and his colleagues at Matrix Capital Associates look forward to leading the Jockeys' Guild in this time of transition and restructure," the announcement said. There were no additional details about the Guild's restructuring.

According to the Guild, Gertmenian served Presidents Nixon and Ford as a chief détente negotiator in Moscow, as an emissary to Tehran, and as a special assistant to the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.  A lifelong Thoroughbred enthusiast who was born and raised near California's Santa Anita Park, Gertmenian was also a co-founder of one of the nation's largest fresh produce processors, according to the Guild.

"After 40 years as a member of this organization, I believe the time has come for the guild to form a committee to interview and select a new national manager," Giovanni, the Guild's national manager since 1987, said. "I am proud of the many achievements the guild has gained during my 14 years as national manager, but I have concluded that this will be my last term as a leader of the guild."

Giovanni began his riding career as an apprentice in 1962. He served 12 years as a member of the guild's board of directors while riding, and when he retired in 1981 after more than 22,000 races, he became a regional manager of the organization. Six years later, he was elected to the job of national manager.

Under Giovanni's direction, the guild has achieved increases in jockey compensation, an increase in the scale of weights, and funding by a number of states for jockey health programs. In addition, it has pushed for protective vests for riders, and has sought, and in some cases, seen the implementation of better padding in starting gates and safety rails along the inside of racetracks around the country.