The California Horse Racing Board approved a plan allowing jockeys and horses to ride with advertising on their silks and saddlecloths. The plan, the first of its kind in the country, still faces a public hearing, officials said. If approved the CHRB's plan would go into effect some time next year.
Although some jockeys like Corey Nakatani already wear advertising on their silks, current CHRB regulations forbid any and all advertisements.
"Our position has been that it's really up to the jockeys, the owners, and the associations to get this worked out," explained CHRB Chairman Robert Tourtelot.
A turning point on the issue occurred recently at Del Mar during a lengthy meeting between jockeys and horse owners, said John Van de Kamp, president of the Thoroughbred Owners of California. During the meeting, representatives from both sides discussed how to deal with issues like dividing up the revenue from jockey advertising.
"This is a way of getting new revenue sources into horse racing," said Van de Kamp.
At the end of the CHRB meeting, commissioner Tourtelot revealed that he was involved with an Internet start-up that would take horse racing wagers by computer, if such wagers became legal in California.
He said he will abandon his plans for the company, because his association might be perceived as a conflict of interest.
"About a year-and-a-half ago I was driving along the freeway and I noticed a billboard advertising AUTOBYTEL.COM, and that gave me the idea for WAGERBYTEL.COM," explained Tourtelot. "Everyone was registering dot-com names at the time. When I got back to my office, I had an associate file a (fictitious business name statement). I had no idea at the time what I was going to do with the name, and in fact I never did anything with it. I forgot about it until I received the call two weeks ago."
In other business, the board said it will review how clocking is done at California tracks and will examine the possibility of using microchips to identify horses that are working out.