By Kathleen Adams
Racing stewards at Churchill Downs have levied a $500 fine against 14 jockeys who wore a patch depicting the Jockeys' Guild logo on their pants in the May 3 Kentucky Derby (gr. I).Chief steward Bernie Hettel issued the ruling late Friday afternoon following a closed-door meeting with lawyers for the Guild."Each jockey in the Kentucky Derby will be fined with the exception of Pat Day and Jerry Bailey, who did not wear the patch," Hettel said.The jockeys that were fined were: Robby Albarado
Rosemary Homeister, Jr.
Cornelio VelasquezHettel explained that by wearing the patch, the jockeys violated a section of Kentucky racing rules that pertains to jockey attire and which states, "advertising, promotional, or cartoon symbols or wording which in the opinion of the commission are not in keeping with the traditions of the turf shall be prohibited."Stephen Gigliotti, one of several lawyers representing the Jockeys' Guild at the meeting, said while the imposition of a $500 fine wasn't unexpected, the ruling violates the free speech rights of the riders. He also insisted that stewards were aware of plans to wear the patch."The jocks were sandbagged,"Gigliotti said. "Stewards knew the jockeys had patches on their pants."Gigliotti also said in the past, when jockeys have worn an inappropriate insignia, they've been given an opportunity to remove it by racetrack officials. But Hettel disagrees. "They sought permission to wear it, and permission was denied."The offending 3 x 5 patch was hand-sewn onto the jockey's pants. It rested on their right thigh, just above the knee. It displays the words Jockey's Guild in black letters and a riding boot."We weren't advertising for any commercial product, Gigliotti said. "The riders were trying to gain exposure for the organization through the logo."Gigilotti said the Jockeys' Guild plans to file an appeal of the stewards ruling with the Kentucky Racing Commission. They will have 10 days to do so.