Darrell Haire, one of the more recognizable faces of the Jockeys' Guild as a national member representative who often appears at industry meetings on behalf of riders, on Nov. 9 called for the immediate resignation of Guild president Dr. Wayne Gertmenian.
Meanwhile, the Guild board of directors has given treasurer Jeff Johnston authority to impose financial controls to monitor finances. With the exception of payments to disabled riders, no check can be drawn on Guild bank accounts in excess of $200 without Johnston's approval, and Guild credit cards can't be used until further notice, according to a Nov. 8 letter to Gertmenian and Guild staff.
Gertmenian and his company, Matrix Capital Associates, is under fire from Guild members in the wake of an Oct. 18 Congressional subcommittee hearing on jockey health and welfare issues. Lawmakers took Gertmenian and his management of the Guild to task, and since then, some members of the Guild senate have called for management changes.
Eleven members of the 27-member senate scheduled a meeting Nov. 15 to discuss the situation.
The move by Haire is dramatic, in that last December, when the Guild extended Gertmenian's contract for five years, Haire was a strong supporter of the regime and backed Guild leadership. But he indicated recent developments have forced him to reconsider his position.
"For months I have grown increasingly frustrated and angered by Gertmenian's management of the Jockeys' Guild," Haire, a former New England-based jockey and a Guild employee under Gertmenian for the last four years, said in a statement. "I was told things that later turned out not to be true, and I've felt manipulated and deceived along with the jockey membership.
"Gertmenian's management has been virtually nonexistent for months, and staff has been left hanging out there (in Southern California) on their own, trying to meet the membership's needs. If Gertmenian really cared about the jockeys, he'd step down, but I doubt if he will leave until he's forced out."
Haire couldn't be immediately reached for further comment.
When contacted by The Blood-Horse
for comments on the latest development, Gertmenian said he wasn't aware of Haire's release. He did acknowledge that financial controls were in place.
"I am aware they asked us not to be spending money until the board has looked at expenditures," Gertmenian said. "I don't think that's unreasonable."
Guild co-vice chairman John Velazquez, one of the senators who called the emergency meeting, said Haire has "worked relentlessly behind the scenes to help the jockeys, and has received little to no support from the current Guild leadership."
Haire, a Guild member representative for almost six years, is said to have received numerous calls from Guild members who are concerned about the current state of affairs, and the situation has weighed on his mind tremendously.
In his role, Haire serves on the advisory boards for the National Accreditation Program for Racing Officials and Judges, the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium, the newly established North American Riding Academy, and the Winners Foundation, a California program for horsemen with drug and alcohol problems.
He also served on a number of committees and boards within the industry such as the Thoroughbred Racing Association Safety Committee, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association Insurance Working Group, and a blue ribbon panel studying workers' compensation insurance in Kentucky.