By Jack Shinar
Advertising on jockey attire, owners' silks and track saddle cloths is now legal at California tracks. Although some concerns were raised regarding conflicts that advertising could cause, the California Horse Racing Board gave the change in race regulations unanimous approval Friday, Nov. 30.
Taking their cue from tennis players and race car drivers, jockeys, owners and racetrack operators will now be permitted to seek commercial endorsements, allowing the display of logos and labels in places previously prohibited. For several years, jockeys in New York have had the opportunity to wear advertising logos on their attire, pending approval of the owner of the horse they would be riding while wearing the logos. However, few if any jockeys have attracted much interest from potential sponsors.
Some issues could arise between competing commercial interests involving tracks, owners and jockeys, noted John Van de Kamp, president of the Thoroughbred Owners of California, who testified before the CHRB.
"I spoke to Gary Stevens, who raced in England, where advertising on silks has been legal for many years," Van de Kamp said. "He said he avoided any problems by letting owners know well in advance what (logos) he would be wearing, so any conflicts could be resolved early."
Van de Kamp said he would like to see "industry deals that involve everyone" in gains through commercial endorsement.
The regulation was originally approved by the CHRB in July but was returned by the state's Office of Administrative Law due to potential constitutional conflicts. The original proposal specifically banned advertising for promotion of tobacco, weapons, pornography and products deemed "detrimental to the best interests of horse racing."
Instead, acceptability will be determined by track stewards in advance of an advertisement's use. Ad sizes will also be closely administered, depending on location. The largest space available is 32 square inches, to be worn on each outer thigh of the pant leg or on the chest.
Jockey Chris McCarron told the CHRB he's hopeful that other jockeys in the state will go along with a Jockey Guild proposal to donate the first year of their advertising proceeds to the Disabled Jockeys Endowment Fund. He and guild attorney Barry Broad testified that the disabled jockey fund will be out of money within 11 months if some means of replenishing it isn't found.
"It is a very much a crisis situation," McCarron said.
In other action, the CHRB approved a legal threshold of up to five nanograms per liter for the presence of clenbuterol in post-race urine examinations of horses.Editor's note: In early editions of this story published on bloodhorse.com, it was erroneously stated that California became the only state permitting jockeys to wear advertising logos. New York previously passed legislation permitting the practice, which is regulated by the New York State Racing and Wagering Board.