The Kentucky Derby is again embroiled in a dispute over advertising on jockeys' pant legs, as the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission is delving into confusion over this year's endorsement of Dodge Ram trucks.
Churchill Downs struck a deal with Dodge that paid $15,000 in royalties for each Derby jockey who wore the Ram logo on his pant leg. The split of the money between each horse's owner and jockey was to be worked out individually.
Nineteen of the jockeys wore the logo, with much of the money going to designated charities. Julien Leparoux, who rode Awesome Act in the Derby, was the only jockey in the race without one.
Commission member Tom Ludt, who is president of Vinery, the owner of Awesome Act, said at Tuesday's commission meeting that he was confronted in the Churchill Downs paddock on Oaks Day, the day before the Derby, by Jockeys' Guild National Manager Terry Meyocks, who demanded he sign a form to allow Leparoux to wear the logo.
Ludt said he had already signed the official regulatory form to permit advertising, and he refused to sign the second form. He said the deadline to submit the form had passed. State regulations require owners' permission for advertising at the time a horse is entered in a race.
Ludt said he believes his and Leparoux's designated charities, the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation and the Permanently Disabled Jockeys' Fund, did not get the $7,500 contributions promised from Dodge.
"I think the Jockeys' Guild needs to be fined," Ludt said after the meeting.
Guild attorney Tom Kennedy said late Tuesday that the group didn't do anything wrong.
"Nineteen of the 20 owners managed to reach an agreement under which their horse participated in the sponsorship opportunity," Kennedy said.
"It's disappointing that Mr. Ludt is unable to manage his affairs competently enough to achieve something that 95 percent of the other owners in the race were able to do, that he could be so far out of touch with the reality of racing," Kennedy said.
Churchill Downs representatives did not return a call for comment.
Racing commission member Ned Bonnie, who explored the deal at a rules committee meeting on Tuesday, said the commission sought input from the guild, Churchill Downs and other parties.
Bonnie said one complicating factor is a clause in the regulations that allows a racetrack to have "house rules" on advertising contracts that can supersede state requirements, something he hopes to change. Rules on jockey ads were implemented in the wake of federal and state lawsuits in 2004 and 2006.
In other business, the KHRC:
■ Gave Keeneland permission to conduct a 11/4-mile race for Arabian horses on Oct. 9, with a $50,000 purse put up by the Emirates Equestrian Federation, to coincide with the last weekend of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games at Kentucky Horse Park.
■ Gave The Red Mile permission to cut three Mondays of harness racing from its fall meet due to "a deteriorating purse account and an extreme decline in horse population."
■ Approved a one-month delay in implementing requirements for wearing safety vests on the racetrack and starting gate.