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Jesse goes racing

Here's a head-scratcher: Jesse Jackson is taking a leadership role in the Jockey's Guild. Although unconfirmed, Guild chairman and leading jockey John Velasquez has stated that Jackson and sports agent Dwight Manley have been hired as co-managers of the Guild.

Jackson made a 15 minute sales pitch to the Guild's board earlier this week. The Blood-Horse reports that Manley told the media that "jockeys should pursue collective bargaining and revenue sharing, which are standards in other major league sports." Moreover,

Manley and Jackson intend to organize jockeys, grooms, hotwalkers, and exercise riders, and would loan the Guild about $500,000 in the first year of the contract. Ultimately, the concern would receive 15% of the Guild's gross revenue for the life of the Guild, the sources said.

This sounds like a bizarre mixture of the teamsters and a hostile takeover!

The previous Guild manager was a Pepperdine economics professor, Wayne Gertmenian, who was fired following allegations of financial mismanagement. He's being sued for $10m by an injured jockey who discovered there was no money in the bank when he filed a claim. Gertmenian left the Guild broke, but turning to Jackson to save the day looks like compounding the error to me.

The principal function of the Guild is to address the risk and liability issues associated with race-riding. This is a serious problem and has not been dealt with in a satisfactory manner. But now the Guild is taking on the job of raising the standard of living of backstretch employees, and is hiring Manley and Jackson to lead the charge. And giving them a 15% perpetuity of gross revenues for a 1/2 million dollars in the bargain.

Result of head scratching: this must mean the guild is indeed truly broke, is incapable of hiring a credible advocate, and that rational jockeys are throwing in the towel on the organization.