Rose Sues KHRA Over Advertising
Photo: Hoofprints
Jeremy Rose

An attorney for jockey Jeremy Rose is petitioning a judge in Kentucky to strike down an amended regulation, enacted prior to the 2005 Kentucky Derby (gr. I), that controls whether riders can wear advertising on their pants.

In a brief filed in Franklin County Circuit Court Jan. 7, Louisville attorney Michael Goodwin petitioned the judge to declare unconstitutional a state regulation governing the wearing of advertising or promotional materials by jockeys. The Kentucky Horse Racing Authority (KHRA) adopted the regulation on an emergency basis after it was approved March 15, 2005, nearly a year after U.S. District Court Judge John G. Heyburn, in a separate federal lawsuit, ruled against the KHRA’s prior version of the regulation governing jockey advertising.

“(The regulation) unconstitutionally infringes upon the jockeys’ free speech rights in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments…” read the brief filed by Goodwin.

In addition, the brief proposes that the court set aside the penalties imposed upon Rose and jockey Kent Desormeaux, who both wore advertising in the 2005 Kentucky Derby, that the KHRA claims was not authorized according to the guidelines of the regulation.

Those penalties, issued in a final order July 22, 2006, suspended Rose and Desormeaux, along with jockey Corey Nakatani, for five days for violating the regulation. Rose and Desormeaux were given an additional 10-day suspension for failing to follow the correct steps to clear their advertisements with stewards prior to the race.

Rose and Desormeaux have not served those days, pending litigation.

According to the brief, Desormeaux was unaware of the regulation, which requires jockeys to submit their potential advertisements for review no later than entry time of the subject race. Rose’s legal counsel also claims he was never directly prohibited from wearing his advertising by the stewards at Churchill Downs. Representatives of both jockeys said they took steps to clear the advertising with stewards and the owners of their mounts, although Desormeaux did not submit his advertisement for review because he was racing in Japan. 

While Churchill Downs president Steve Sexton testified in a KHRA hearing that Desormeaux’s advertisement for “VESTIN” mortgage did not conflict with any race or race meet sponsor, concerns were raised over Rose’s advertisement for ParadisePoker.com and its potential conflict with Churchill sponsor Youbet.com.

However, former Youbet.com CEO Chuck Champion, who was working for the Internet wagering company at the time, said in a recent interview that he saw no potential conflict with an Internet gambling site that does not contain a race-wagering element.

“I told a Churchill official, if it was a gaming site that offers horse racing after the same customer base, that’s a potential conflict,” said Champion. “I wasn’t asked for approval, I was never told specifically who the advertiser was on the pants, I never saw the pants, and quite frankly I didn’t know much about it.”

Rose’s advertisement for ParadisePoker.com was a marketing deal set up with Chuck Zacney, managing partner of Cash is King Stable, which owned the jockey’s Derby mount, Afleet Alex. The proceeds from the deal were donated to pediatric cancer research.

“The deal was set up with me, not with Jeremy,” said Zacney.

The jockeys were initially fined $5,000 and suspended seven days for violating the regulation by stewards Michael Sample, Richard Leigh, and Brooks Becraft. Following an appeal process before a hearing officer of the KHRA, the punishment was altered to a recommended 15-day suspension. 

Lisa Underwood, executive director of the KHRA, said the authority had no comment because the case is still in litigation. The KHRA will file their brief Feb. 7, after which Rose's attorney will issue a response.

Most Popular Stories