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Judge John Heyburn ruled in favor of five jockeys who filed suit last week against the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority, which was prohibiting the jockeys from wearing either an ad or a patch from the Jockey's Guild, the union that represents the riders.
$30,000 leg placement
One jockey testified he was offered $30,000 from an unnamed sponsor to wear an advertising patch on his right leg. Camera angles for horse races are such that tight shots often capture a jockey crouched atop the horse, with his right leg tucked close to his body and clearly visible.
Another jockey, Shane Sellers, testified last week that he was looking to cut an even bigger deal with a marketer, also unnamed, to wear an advertising patch for all three Triple Crown races -- the Derby, the Preakness Stakes in Baltimore on May 15 and the Belmont Stakes in New York on June 5.
Churchill Downs in Louisville, the venerable track where the 130th annual Kentucky Derby will take place, said it did not have a problem with the jockeys wearing advertising patches as long as the ads did not conflict with race and television sponsors. Visa is the main sponsor, offering a $5 million bonus if a horse wins all three races in the Visa Triple Crown Challenge.
Saturday's race will be televised live by General Electric Corp.'s NBC. Last year, the Derby drew a 7.6 rating and a 20 share, beating playoff games in both the National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League.
Jockeys' own deals
The jockeys filed suit last week in an effort to cut their own financial deals by wearing advertising patches. Jockeys traditionally earn 10% of the purse, depending on where their horse finishes, and with Saturday's winner guaranteed $914,800 of the $1,214,800 total prize money, the winning jock will walk away with almost $100,000. But there are 20 horses scheduled to start this year's Kentucky Derby, meaning the jockey who finishes last will earn as little as $56.