KY Commission Approves Jockey Ad Regulations

New rules will go into effect June 15 as emergency regulations.

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission has unanimously approved new regulations on jockey advertising, requiring that any agreements between riders, owners, and sponsors, file those documents with the regulatory body.

During its monthly meeting June 8, the commission approved the new regulations with a stipulation that they be implemented as emergency regulations. Lisa Underwood, executive director of the KHRC, said the advertising regs would go into effect June 15.

Under previous regulations, the commission rules stipulated various conditions that must be met by the respective parties before the advertisements, in the form of logos worn by the jockeys on their pants, could be used.

In addition to requiring that the agreements be filed with the KHRC, the new regulations also provide for written approval before someone else could act as agent on behalf of an owner in connection with the ads, and provide that any advertising agreements must be approved two days prior to the race card where the ads are to appear.

The new regulations had been approved by the KHRC rules committee, which conducted a lengthy discussion into the matter. During the rules committee meeting, representatives of The Jockeys’ Guild, horsemen’s groups, and racetracks had complained that the transparency being sought by the commission regarding financial terms of the advertising agreements could have a negative effect on the ability to attract sponors.

"I’ve heard the arguments that someone would get a competitive advantage, and that the public is not entitled to that information, and that sponsors don’t want their deals publicized," said Ned Bonnie, a commissioner and one of three attorneys who serve as the rules committee. "I and members of the committee reject those arguments."

Terry Meyocks, national manager for the Guild, said several aspects of the regulations, including releasing the terms of the agreements to the commission, will have a negative impact.

"It is set up to fail," Meyocks said, noting that Kentucky should have patterned its rule after one that is in effect in California.

During the rules committee meeting, the KHRC staff agreed to look into the state’s open records laws and, when possible, would redact any proprietary business information before releasing the information publicly.

Also during the June 8 meeting, the KHRC heard a glowing safety report from its veterinary staff. Dr. Bryce Peckham, chief state veterinarian, reported there had been no catastrophic (fatal) injuries during the first 26 days of the current Churchill Downs meet.

Dr. Mary Scollay, equine medical director for the commission, said the safety record at Kentucky tracks this year was much improved over the past two years. From Dec. 1, 2009 through June 1, 2010, there had been nine fatalities as a result of racing incidents, which represents a 50% or better reduction in such incidents when compared with the same periods in 2008 and 2009, Scollay said.

"This reduction in the fatality rate in Kentucky is a testament to the collaborative efforts of industry stakeholders, including racetracks, veterinarians, trainers, and regulators," Scollay said, while recognizing the diligent work of the state veterinary staff.