Jockeys get court approval on ad, union patches in Ky.

Sticky situation averted with classic around corner

April 30, 2004|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Jockeys will be allowed to wear advertising and union patches on their pants in the Kentucky Derby and other races in the state, a judge ruled yesterday.

The ruling averted a possible showdown between jockeys and racing officials during the country's most-watched race tomorrow at Churchill Downs.

U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II decided two cases filed by jockeys against the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority. The authority, a newly formed agency that regulates racing here, had a rule forbidding jockeys to wear advertising or logos on their riding attire. The jockeys argued that the rule restricted their right of free speech.

Six of the seven jockeys involved have mounts in the Kentucky Derby - Robby Albarado, Jerry Bailey, Jose Santos, Shane Sellers, Alex Solis and John Velazquez. The other was Brian Peck.

Several of the Derby jockeys and their attorney said they had pending advertising contracts for the Derby worth up to $30,000 and for the Triple Crown series worth more than $100,000. Maryland and New York, home of the Preakness and Belmont, have no rule prohibiting jockeys from wearing advertising on their clothing.

In the wake of the judge's ruling, Churchill Downs clarified its rule on jockey advertising. Jockeys can wear advertising as long as it's not inappropriate - not promoting gambling via telephones, the Internet or casinos, or companies in competition with track or Triple Crown sponsors.

The jockeys said the ads would be tasteful.

"We are very sensitive to the traditions of our sport, and our goal is not to offend anyone," said Bailey, a two-time Derby winner who will ride Wimbledon tomorrow. "Jockeys work very hard and risk our lives on a daily basis. We have earned the right to make additional income."

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