07/28/2006 12:00AM

Guild reaches contract agreement with Manley

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The Jockeys' Guild has come to terms with the coin-dealer and sports-agent Dwight Manley on an employment contract as the guild's national manager, the counsel to the guild said on Friday.

Tom Kennedy, the guild's New York-based counsel, said that Manley was hired after a board vote late on Friday afternoon. The national manager position at the guild has been vacant since the guild's board fired the organization's former chief executive officer, L. Wayne Gertmenian, last November.

Kennedy declined to give details about Manley's contract on Friday, but said, "The guild's board feels satisfied with the terms of the agreement."

Manley, 40, did not return a phone call on Friday.

Manley has no experience in racing but has made millions of dollars in the rare-coin market and as an agent for professional athletes Karl Malone and Dennis Rodman. He was elected as the guild's next national manager by the organization's board at a meeting in Louisville on June 26. Negotiations between Manley and the guild on his employment contract have proceeded over the past month.

In an earlier interview, Manley said he was seeking 20 percent of any new revenue that he created for the guild, which draws the majority of its revenue from membership dues and payments from racetracks and several states. He had also promised to loan the guild $500,000. The loan would be interest free for one year.

The late Friday vote came six hours after Kennedy said that negotiations between Manley and the board had stalled and that the board had dropped him as a candidate. Kennedy declined to discuss the reversal.

According to multiple people who are involved with the guild, many jockeys have voiced concern over the past several weeks about the selection of Manley as national manager, citing his lack of experience in racing. Manley's selection had also unnerved many racing officials who deal with the guild.

Manley was accompanied to the guild's national meeting in Louisville by Jesse Jackson, the founder of the Rainbow/Push Coalition, a left-leaning political advocacy group.

Manley had said in the earlier interview that Jackson would serve as a "special counsel." Jackson would receive no salary, although Manley said that he may pay Jackson for his political services out of his own pocket.

Jackson's appearance at the guild meeting prompted Rep. Ed Whitfield, a Republican from Kentucky, to cancel a press conference to announce the introduction of legislation that would have amended the Interstate Horse Racing Act to cut riders in on a share of the industry's simulcasting revenues.

Manley has hinted that he will target racing's simulcast revenues to include jockeys, based on riders' media rights. The strategy is controversial. In 1992, the guild withdrew a lawsuit that it had filed against racetracks that attempted to assert the riders' media rights after the judge in the case indicated that he would rule against the guild, according to John Giovanni, the national manager of the guild at the time, and Chris Scherf, the executive vice president of the Thoroughbred Racing Associations, which was named in the suit.

Manley was selected by the guild's board over several other candidates, including Dave Stevenson, a former jockey and racetrack official; the former racing executive Terry Meyocks; and the guild's interim national manager, Darrell Haire.