SBJ/June 8 - 14, 1998/No Topic Name

NTRA may let jockeys wear logos

Jockeys have been on the short end of the whip in getting commercial endorsements, but a national racing organization will consider new guidelines that might change that.

While other professional athletes have raked in big bucks for sticking Swooshes and other corporate identifiers on their shirts, hats and shoes, jockeys have gone logo-less. Unlike most big league sports, horse racing has no national standard for corporate endorsements, and many states have banned corporate endorsements by jockeys.

"We have chased corporate America away," said Kent Desormeaux, a top U.S. jockey who rides 3-year-old Real Quiet.

Now the new National Thoroughbred Racing Association is talking to jockeys, horse owners and racetracks about creating national regulations for corporate endorsements, said Nick Nicholson, NTRA executive director.

The NTRA was set up in April by most of the largest U.S. racetracks to market the sport.

Nicholson said the new league, at the request of jockeys and owners, will set up a task force that would set standards for endorsements.

"What we would like to do is come up with one set of standards that each state would adopt," he said.

Nicholson said national standards could be set quickly. He expressed confidence that most state racing boards, even those that ban corporate endorsements, would adopt a national standard if asked by the NTRA.

Setting a standard would require hashing out several issues, including placement of logos, size of logos and distribution of endorsement profits.

Unlike other sports, in which athletes are employed by a team, jockeys work for horse owners and can work for as many as 10 owners on a given race day.

Jockeys wear their own their pants, boots and undershirts, but they change their shirts, called racing silks, between races. Horse owners own the silks.

"One of the questions we're looking at is to find some way up-front that the revenues could be split in a fair way," Nicholson said.

John Giovanni, national manager of the Jockeys Guild, said jockeys should get most of the revenue for logos worn on pants, boots or undershirt collars and owners should get the majority of revenue for logos on silks.

"We're very excited that the NTRA is now involved in this," Giovanni said, adding that jockeys have been asking for a national standard for years.

Corporate endorsements could also benefit horse owners, said John Van de Kamp, president of the Thoroughbred Owners of California.

"The average owner in California gets 50 cents back for every dollar he spends on his horses, so anything we can do to expand revenues is in the best interest of horse racing," he said.

Bob Williams, president of Burns Sports Celebrity Service, a Chicago company that matches athletes with corporations, said the market for jockey endorsements exists but may be limited because horse racing does not have the mass appeal of some other sports.

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NTRA, Nickelodeon

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