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Volume 27 No. 30
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Demolition Derby: Jockeys File Suit In Quest To Wear Ads

Jockeys Suing As Limits
On Ads Limit Income

Ron Sheffer, attorney for five jockeys, said he sent a lawyer to file suit Friday in U.S. District Court in Louisville against the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority (KHRA) after last-minute negotiations with the state regulatory body broke down over jockeys wearing advertising in the May 1 Kentucky Derby, according to SportsBusiness Journal's Liz Mullen in a special to THE DAILY. Sheffer — who reps Jerry Bailey, Alex Solis, John Velazquez, Jose Santos and Shane Sellers — said attorneys for Churchill Downs were agreeing to some sort of advertising (as long as it did not compete with their current sponsors), but the KHRA would not agree to any kind of advertising Friday. The suit alleges the KHRA's position is a violation of free commercial speech and an unreasonable restraint of trade, and it asks for an expedited hearing on a temporary restraining order, which would allow the jockeys to wear advertising in the Derby. The lawsuit claims that the jockeys would suffer "the loss of significant income and earning capacity from the inability to wear advertising logos at the 2004 Kentucky Derby." A hearing on the matter is scheduled for today (THE DAILY).

View a copy of the complaint.

CHURCHILL ON THE SAME PAGE? In L.A., Bill Christine noted that Churchill Downs has "notified the jockeys that they risk eviction from the track" if they wear ads. But Sheffer said that the complaint "did not mention Churchill because the track 'is working with us on this.'" Jockeys' Guild spokesperson Albert Fiss said that Churchill was "caught between the racing authority and the jockeys' desire to wear the ads." Equisponse President Kelly Wietsma, the marketing rep for the five jockeys, said Triple Crown sponsor Visa "has said no to what we want to do. The rule they're trying to enforce in Kentucky has all kinds of holes in it. There's a double standard at work between Churchill's advertisers and our advertisers." Churchill Downs spokesperson Julie Koenig Loignon indicated that the track was "obliged to protect Visa's sponsorship rights" (L.A. TIMES, 4/24). Sheffer: "If Tiger Woods can wear a logo in golf and Churchill Downs can display whatever it wants on the track, the jockeys should be able to do the same" (THOROUGHBRED TIMES, 4/23).

THE OTHER SUIT: In Louisville, Marcus Green noted a similar lawsuit concerning the wearing of Jockeys' Guild patches, also contending that the prohibition of jockey ads restricts the right of free speech, was filed by three jockeys — Sellers, Robby Albarado and Brian Peck — last week. The two suits are being heard in separate hearings today (Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL, 4/24).