07/17/2006 11:00PM

Jockeys set to appeal suspensions


Jockeys Kent Desormeaux, Corey Nakatani, and Jeremy Rose plan to appeal suspensions that were approved on Monday by the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority for violating rules regarding advertising during the 2005 Kentucky Derby, the jockeys and their representatives said on Monday.

Kelly Wietsma, the owner of the sports-marketing company Equispone, which represents Rose, said that Rose's appeal would be spearheaded by Ron Sheffer, the Louisville attorney who two years ago represented five jockeys in their successful lawsuit against Kentucky over a prohibition on jockey advertising. As a result of the 2004 suit, a federal judge ruled the prohibition unconstitutional, leading the state to draft rules requiring riders to seek approval from racetracks and owners before being allowed to wear advertising.

Desormeaux and Nakatani said on Tuesday that they would also appeal, and will be represented by Mike Goodwin and Chris Lasch, two Louisville attorneys who have worked frequently on behalf of jockeys and the Jockeys' Guild, a national riders' organization.

"I'm going to take this as far as it needs to go," Desormeaux said.

On Monday, the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority approved 15-day suspensions for Desormeaux and Rose, contending that the jockeys did not meet the rule's requirements when wearing advertising during the 2005 Derby and violated a stewards' order before the Derby that the advertisements were disallowed. The authority also approved a five-day suspension for Nakatani for violating the advertising rule.

Wietsma said that Rose followed all of the requirements to file the approvals with the authority by a 48-hour deadline on Thursday, but was told by the stewards that the advertisement violated a conflict-of-interest with a Churchill sponsor, Youbet.com, the on-line horserace broadcasting and wagering company. The advertisement was for Poker Paradise, an on-line gambling company. The existing guidelines allow racetracks to reject advertisements that would conflict with an existing advertiser at a track.

"You tell me how this is a conflict," Wietsma said. "One is for horseracing betting, the other is for poker."

Desormeaux said that he had filed his paperwork on Friday after arriving in Louisville from Japan.

Nakatani said that he wore an advertisement for a regular client, Cashcall, an on-line loan company owned by a California horseowner. He said he did not fill out the paperwork in Kentucky because he wears the advertisements while riding in California, including at Hollywood Park, which is owned by Churchill Downs, and was not notified by anyone in Kentucky that the paperwork was required.

"How can I be punished when I didn't know I was doing anything wrong?" Nakatani said. "And how can I be punished when no one informed me, in writing or verbally?"