07/18/2001 11:00PM

Jockeys may soon wear ads

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DEL MAR, Calif. - Advertising may appear on silks, jockey attire, and saddle towels by the end of the year in California after the California Horse Racing Board amended a rule prohibiting such displays.

The ads would be a first in North American racing. Ads have been appearing on jockeys' attire in the United Kingdom since the early 1990's.

There will be a 45-day notice of the rule change before the board will officially make the change. Then, the rule must be reviewed by the secretary of state's office.

Any advertisements must be approved by the stewards for content. There are existing rules for size, restricting ads on silks to chest emblems, and on jockeys' attire to a space on the pantlegs.

"I think it's hard to predict where it will go," said Barry Broad, a lobbyist for the Jockeys' Guild. "I think you can only categorize this as removing the legal barrier."

Senate passes phone betting bill

Legislation that would permit telephone betting in California passed the state Senate on Wednesday. The bill was sent back to the state Assembly on Thursday, which must approve new language before it reaches the desk of Gov. Gray Davis.

Assembly Bill 471, which also establishes a system to unionize backstretch workers, could reach a vote in coming days.

"There doesn't appear to be any opposition for it in the Assembly," said Bob Fox, a lobbyist for the racing industry. "I don't think there is much question it will get out of the Assembly."

Last year, a similar bill passed the legislature but was vetoed by Davis, who has concerns over an expansion of gambling and the possibility of underage bettors having access to accounts.

This year, racing officials attempted to convince Davis that the bill is not an expansion of gambling, but will give California bettors a chance to bet via telephones and not use services in other states or in other countries.

"There is quite a bit more optimism that the questions the governor raised last year have been answered," Fox said.