Southern California-based Jockeys Management Group was off and running Belmont Stakes day as three of the agency's stable of jockeys -- Jerry Bailey, Jose Santos, and Gary Stevens--wore advertising on their uniforms for the entire program.
Wrangler and Anheuser-Busch signed deals with JMG for a one-time advertising opportunity several weeks before the Belmont Stakes, JMG founder R.J. Kors said Tuesday. In exchange for the advertising, JMG received cash and product -- except from beer-maker Anheuser-Busch, which only paid cash.
"It was a one-off kind of a deal just for the day, but we are in negotiation in good faith for events to come," Kors said.
It was JMG's original goal to collectively market its stable of more than 100 jockeys, but sponsors demands are forcing the company to take a different tack. "There might be specific jockeys that are sold for a year," Kors said. "We are getting such high demand for the top guys. I really believe in the group sale, but there just seems to be a lot of companies in this marketplace that can afford more of a specialized program."
Kors added the next step hopefully will be for sponsors to sign on for entire race meets in states where advertising is legal, rather than just for a particular day.
JMG can only offer its services to states where jockey advertising is allowed, which includes the major racing states of California and New York. While the New York rule states a jockey must get an owner's approval before wearing any advertising in a race, Kors indicated it is vaguely written and needs to be updated.
However, he added Bailey, Santos, and Stevens received permission from the owners of every horse they rode on the Belmont program.