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Friday, January 28, 2011

Ricardo Feliciano Named Jockey of the Week at Tampa Bay

From Tampa Bay Communications Department 
In the week of January 20-26, the reinsman has booted home four winners, four second-place finishers and two third-place finishers from 14 starters at average odds of 9-1.

 Feliciano, born on August 4, 1976, always knew that he wanted to be a jockey; his father Benny Feliciano and his uncle is Miguel Feliciano are both successful trainers. Feliciano grew up around Thistle Down Race Course in Ohio, and said of his early years around the oval, “I was fascinated by it. I went a lot when I was really young, and then I went back when I was about 15 or 16 and I carried on. I started galloping horses in the morning, and then I was a (jockey’s) valet for three years; after that, I got my license and started riding.”

 Feliciano says that he has a hard time naming a favorite horse. “It’s hard to narrow it down at this point! I’ve ridden a lot of good Ohio champions like Majestic Dinner and Bernie Blue. Those are the ones that stick out to me, always.”

 When Feliciano completes the 2010-2011 race meet at the Oldsmar oval, he plans to move his tack to Presque Isle Downs and Mountaineer Racetrack for the summer months.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Lindey Wade back in saddle following accident

By HAL LUNDGREN
For the Chronicle

He can't reconstruct one second of Nov. 30, 2007. So much the better.

Video shows Wade the fall, helping him understand how the impact swept the day from his mind.

"After they ambulanced me to the hospital, they noticed that one of the trailing horses had stepped on my face and left a hoof print on my cheek," he said. "The hoof must have been what broke my jaw."

Ambulance? He almost caught a ride in a hearse.

Wade and another jockey were urging their horses to the finish at Chicago's Hawthorne Park. When Wade's horse broke a foreleg bone and tumbled, the rider smashed full-speed onto the track.

"I don't remember the fall, horses going past me or anything else," he said.

Wade's injuries included severe head trauma. You wonder what the outcome had he not been wearing a helmet.

"My girlfriend came to the track that day, which she rarely did," he said. "Lucky for me she was there. She gave doctors information I was in no condition to tell them.

"When my mother rushed to the hospital (from Kansas) and came to my bedside, I looked up and asked, 'Who are you?' "

Pride before fall

Then 16, Wade had left his native Louisiana and become a flashy success at Hawthorne.

"I had won 26 races from October to the end of November," he said. "People liked me."

Everything was going well, despite bumps here and there. Because of Wade's minor status, he could not cash checks without an adult cosigner. He roomed with another jockey, and their conversation one night before Wade's fall remains a lasting memory.

"I had no car or driver's license," Wade said. "We talked about how I would get home from the track after Friday's races."

In the ER, physicians chose to induce a coma, minimizing brain swelling. He was under for four days.

"Racing has lots of ups and downs," he said. No kidding.

Four months of hospital and rehab center treatment followed. He still kept sight of his destination — the track — but there was no rush.

"At first, I'd just get on a horse and walk him in the shed row," Wade said.

He soon took a horse on the track to trot, then to gallop.

Wade has credited many people for bringing him through the fall's aftermath, including Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who offered encouragement.

"He understood what I was going through," Wade said.

Head injuries in professional football have raised concern about symptoms that might not appear for many years. Wade believes he has fully recovered.

He received medical clearance to ride again in April 2008. On his first try, he admitted, "I was more like a passenger than a jockey."

What goes down ...

Now 20, he has come to Sam Houston Race Park, where the first week of thoroughbred season vaulted him to first place in wins.

He also cleared up the two spellings of his first name. Born Lindey Wade, he was skimming a book that identified "Lindey" as a female name. He switched to the male spelling, Lyndie. That created legal and financial glitches, so he went back to his birth-certificate name.

When jockeys speak, they often lean to either the cocky or shy side. Not this one. Though his formal education ended at 16, Wade's words come at you clearly, earnestly and thoughtfully. If one word defines him, it's "poised." Perhaps the poise makes him easy to admire.

Journalists are never supposed to root. Then you meet Lindey Wade and wonder if maybe it's OK just this once.

horsechronicler@gmail.com

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Napravnik Named TT TODAY Jockey of the Week

Napravnik captured the Colonel E. R. Bradley Handicap (G3) on January 22 aboard Gran Estreno (Arg). The win marked the first graded stakes victory of the season, and fifth overall, for Napravnik, a finalist for the 2006 Eclipse Award as outstanding apprentice jockey.

In addition to racking up $245,660 in earnings during the past seven days, Napravnik also won nine races, good for second among jockeys during the period.

Since starting her professional career in 2005, Napravnik has demonstrated her toughness time and again as she has overcome a series of injuries. She broke her collarbone in 2005, her back and wrist in 2007, and a leg in 2008.

She currently is riding the Louisiana circuit at Fair Grounds and Delta Downs.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Baze making his name known at Oaklawn

By Mary Rampellini/Daily Racing Form January 26, 2011
 
But that was not necessarily the case for the rider whose second cousin, Russell Baze, is the all-time winningest jockey in North America; whose first cousin, Tyler Baze, is a mainstay in Southern California; and whose uncle and aunt, Gary and Vicky Baze, are veteran riders.

“I might have been the only one not to grow up around horses,” said Michael Baze, 23. “My best friend and I were going to be Marines.”

But as pedigree would have it, Baze is now a seasoned pro in the saddle. A winner of 890 races and $31 million in mount earnings since launching his career in 2003, the Washington native is contending for the Oaklawn title in his first season at the track. The local colony is one of the deepest in years, and Baze heads into Thursday’s card second in the standings, sandwiched between leader Cliff Berry and two-time defending Oaklawn champ Terry Thompson.

“The first week here I rode seven and won three, so that was a pretty good start off,” Baze said. “And it’s getting better and better. I’m getting to ride for more and more people.”

Baze has won 6 races from 27 mounts two weeks into the meet, including last weekend’s $75,000 Pippin. He has quickly established a rapport with a broad base of stables, and to date has won races for such trainers as Steve Asmussen, Tim Ice and Lynn Whiting.

“Everyone seemed to really accept him and really embrace him being here,” said Jay Fedor, who is Baze’s agent. “I’m getting a lot of favorable phone calls right now.”

Baze won the Arlington Park title this past fall, and from there rode at Keeneland and Churchill Downs before the decision was made to winter at Oaklawn.

“We were looking at our options and what to do and Jay had a lot of connections here,” Baze said. “Last year, he had Corey Nakatani here. He had a lot of good contacts.”

Baze began getting on racehorses at 15, at the behest of Dennis Ward, the father of trainer Wesley Ward. The young jockey eventually made a name for himself in Southern California, winning a Hollywood Park and Del Mar title in 2007. But not long afterward, Baze was injured and around the same time jockeys Garrett Gomez and Rafael Bejarano moved into Southern California.

“It made it tough to get my business back when I didn’t win right away,” said Baze.

Baze said his agent at the time, Ron Ebanks, helped him secure an opportunity in Chicago, to ride for Arlington trainer Wayne Catalano. And so last April, Baze headed to the Midwest and at that point, the Chicago-based Fedor took over Baze’s book. Baze, whose top mounts have included Mi Sueno, with whom he won the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante in 2009, said his goal is to finish in the top three in the standings at Oaklawn.

“I’m hoping it goes that way,” he said. “There’s a ton of good riders in the room.”

There’s also a lot of good riders named Baze.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

JOCKEYS RECEIVE MOUNT FEE INCREASE AT EMERALD DOWNS

 

            Mount fees will now range from $55-$115 as opposed $45 to $105 under the old fee schedule.

 

            “This agreement was a cooperative effort of the Washington HBPA, the jockeys and the Guild,” said Darrell Haire, regional manager for the Guild.  “I would like to thank Ronald Maus, the president of the Washington HBPA, and its board and staff for working with us on this agreement and also the spirit in which business was conducted.  I would also like to thank Paul George, chairman of the Washington Horse Racing Commission, and its members for their approval.”  

                                                                                               

            “The jockeys and the Guild are committed to help the Washington HBPA and Emerald Downs improve and promote racing for this great community,” said Terry Meyocks, national manager of the Jockeys’ Guild.  “This agreement is the beginning of our work together.  Through other cooperative efforts with the Washington HBPA, we believe we can have a positive impact on racing in the Seattle area.”    

 

            Ron Maus, president of the Washington Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, concurred with Meyocks’ assessment saying, ”We strongly believe that our industry benefits from our working cooperatively, and this is but one of our initiatives in making it so.  We are pleased to have the Guild and its members as partners in the Washington racing industry.”

 

This new scale follows increases in mount fees through legislation at California tracks and negotiated increases at Aqueduct, Belmont Park, Saratoga, Finger Lakes, Monmouth, Meadowlands, Atlantic City, Hawthorne, Arlington Park, Fairmount Park, Gulfstream Park, Calder, Tampa Bay Downs, Tropical Park, Fair Grounds, Louisiana Downs, Delta Downs, Evangeline Downs, Turf Paradise, Yavapai Downs, Indiana Downs, Hoosier Park, Delaware Park, Charles Town, Mountaineer, Prairie Meadows, Oaklawn, Fair Meadows at Tulsa, Remington Park, Will Rogers Downs, Sunland Park, SunRay Park, The Downs at Albuquerque, Ruidoso Downs and Zia Park.  Jockeys at Philadelphia Park, Penn National and Presque Isle have also received raises in their losing mount fees.  Negotiations are ongoing in other racing jurisdictions.

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Contact: the Jockeys’ Guild  (859) 305-0606

Monday, January 24, 2011

Injured jockey Michael Martinez intends for his life to be a long ride, despite paralysis

T.J. Simers/Los Angels Times/January 22, 2011

You don't want to read it; I don't want to write it.

It is horse racing, and already some folks are moving on to Page 3. If not the byline, the photo and headline might've been enough.

It's a story about a jockey, but one unfamiliar to most in Southern California, to make it even less enticing. One who is living in San Pablo, wherever that is.

He's a cousin of jockey Alex Solis, and he rode at Hollywood Park and Del Mar. So there's that. But he's here on a working visa from Panama and doesn't speak much English.

As athletic accomplishments go, he was really just getting started. His greatest claim to date, based on mounting evidence, is that everyone just loves this kid.

Being known as a good kid usually gets you no mention, and certainly not in this space. But what the heck — how often does one get the chance to visit San Pablo?

Located 14 miles outside of Oakland, San Pablo is Michael Martinez's home. Never heard of Martinez until a few days ago.

When I arrive he's just sitting there, as if he has any other choice. He's 24, one Sunday falling off a horse, and unless he experiences divine intervention or a scientific miracle, he will spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair — paralyzed from the waist down.

When they talk about horse racing being a dying sport, this is not what they mean.

But this is no longer about horse racing. It has more to do with the human spirit and how it might withstand a lifelong test. Imagine yourself at 24, or picture one of your own, and what would you say if delivered such a sentence?

"I'm lucky," Martinez says, the last words anyone might expect. "I've had the chance to see my daughter start to grow."

He wasn't breathing when they got to him at Golden Gate Fields on Sept. 12. He was given one chance out of nine to survive, his spinal cord severed, his brain bleeding. They had to call Solis for permission to operate.

Eleven hours of surgery and nine days later, still in a daze with his brain on the mend, his 23-year-old fiancee Charlotte Garcia gave birth to their daughter, Merari.

As coincidences go, the final win he ever records as a jockey comes three races before he's injured aboard a horse named Stormin Proud Papa. And he sure is.

Right now he's holding her in his arms, the human spirit doing just fine. The papa proud to say he changes diapers, while admitting he first had them on backward.

It's already been a big day when we get together, Martinez cooking his own breakfast. The therapy goal is to make him 100% self-sufficient.

His answer in a soft voice to his therapists is almost always the same, "OK. No problem." As his agent, Dennis Patterson, says, everyone hears the same thing. "It's like he wants to make everyone else feel good."

Martinez says he's not mad at anyone for what has happened to him, including God. "I thought I was a good person so I don't know why this happened to me. But God must have something else in mind for me."

His fiancee, whose father is jockey Julio Garcia, says he does get upset. "Like any other man," Charlotte says, "when we go shopping." Everyone laughs, and it's nice to hear.

Martinez rubs a hand through Merari's hair. There's a bunch of it and she's gorgeous. "The day she was born," he says, "I was reborn."

He has no idea when he first sees his baby that he will never walk again. No one tells him. He says to his agent someone has switched his legs; they are not his. Later he recognizes an old scar and realizes they are his own, but they will not move.

"I believe in miracles," he says.

He still gets up as early as he did when riding. He still thinks of himself as a jockey. He was on his way up, No. 13 in the nation in wins, but his last victory was a successful wheelie in his chair.

"It's hard for everyone," Charlotte says, "but we're young and we just need to move on."

There is a family feel to horse racing when one of its own gets hurt. The line to help is a long one. A track official says there is a job for him when he's ready to return.

A horse owner in L.A. has never met him. But she writes a $10,000 check to buy out Craig's restaurant in West Hollywood to host a fundraiser for the young family on Jan. 31. The public is invited — RSVP to (310) 828-9798.

Judy Carmel does so because she is Morrie Hazan's daughter, Morrie doing things like buying free spaghetti dinners for World War II GIs. "Dad left his money to us to help others," Carmel says. "I wish I could do more."

Martinez's agent is unemployed because his client cannot ride. But he's been with the kid since they hauled him off on a stretcher.

"He's like a son," Patterson says, "and just because he can't ride anymore changes nothing."

Dr. David Seftel, the track physician, won't quit. He has found promising treatment in Portugal, using stem cells from a patient's own nose.

"There are individuals regaining 85% of their previous capabilities," he says. "We'd love to have him walk again, but getting his bladder and bowel control back is worth everything. Most paraplegics die because of ravenous infections."

Seftel calls it a "window of opportunity to rescue him," treatment needing to start soon. But Martinez needs his immigration status modified, the bureaucratic process just beginning.

The treatment will probably cost $100,000. How much would you pay to maybe reduce a lifetime sentence in a wheelchair?

"No one knows what's going to happen with these young people," his agent says. "But I know this, I'm pulling for them."

Now that's a story worth following.

t.j.simers@latimes.com
Thursday, January 20, 2011

PENSION FUND ADMINISTRATOR CHOSEN FOR CA LICENSED JOCKEYS PLAN

 In 2008, legislation was passed in California which authorized advance deposit wagering (ADW).  As part of that legislation, a portion of the revenue generated by ADW is deposited into a trust jointly managed by the Jockeys’ Guild and the California Horse Racing Board.  All licensed California jockeys are eligible to participate in the plan.  Several million dollars have already accumulated in the pension plan, which will be allocated to an individual account for each eligible jockey.  A contribution will be made for every race that a jockey rides.

 Terry Meyocks, the National Manager of the Jockeys’ Guild, said “Nearly two hundred California jockeys have been enrolled in the plan, the first of its kind in the nation.  The California horse racing industry and the State Legislature have provided something to jockeys that they have never had:  retirement security.  They have the heartfelt appreciation of every jockey.  We hope that the California model will be adopted in other racing jurisdictions so that a jockey will have a degree of financial security when he or she retires.” 

 

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Contact: the Jockeys’ Guild  (859) 305-0606

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Bejarano Named TT TODAY Jockey of the Week

The 28-year-old native of Arequipa, Peru, captured the El Encino Stakes (G2) on Sunday aboard Always a Princess and then returned the following day to win the San Marcos Stakes (G2) with Bourbon Bay.

Overall, Bejarano won with four of his 30 mounts, accounting for $342,752 in purse earnings during the period.

Bejarano currently leads the nation in earnings with $757,924 through Tuesday, about $24,000 in front of second-ranked Joel Rosario. He finished fifth in the year-end rankings for 2010 with $14,225,120.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Outstanding Jockey: Ramon Dominguez

From Thoroughbred Times
Dominguez led all North American riders in purse earnings for the first time in his career, banking $16,911,880 in 2010. He also led North America in top three finishes this past season, a tribute to his ability to perform daily at a high level.

The 34-year-old dominated the New York Racing Association circuit for a second straight year, topping the overall jockey standings with 353 victories, nearly double David Cohen’s second-place total of 180 victories. He swept every NYRA meeting in 2009.

“I’m very happy not only with last year, but just with my career,” Dominguez said. “I feel like I’ve had so much support.”

With 1,474 mounts in 2010, third most in North America, Dominguez proved his durability and consistency, two traits that have led to his national ascent.

At Belmont Park, Dominguez picked up his signature win of the season in the Jockey Club Gold Cup Stakes (G1) as he rode Haynesfield to a dominating four-length victory, handing eventual Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner Blame his lone 2010 defeat.

Dominguez also proved he could win on the road as well, taking nine stakes outside of New York, most notably the Shadwell Turf Mile Stakes (G1) at Keeneland Race Course aboard multiple Eclipse Award winner Gio Ponti.

Friday, January 14, 2011

For Albarado, one of the bad breaks of the game

By Jay Hovedy/Daily Racing Form
 
Then it turned Jan. 2.

While on his way to the track for the second race that Sunday afternoon, Albarado was launched from the rearing filly Mollys Missb’havin and landed right foot first on the concrete slab supporting a fence post along the path from the walking ring. Albarado, a gifted athlete, has stuck many an unscheduled dismount in the past without serious incident. The boots worn by a jockey, however, have about as much support as a layer of Kleenex. He hit hard, and there was considerable pain.

“I tried to walk off,” Albarado said this week from back home in Louisville, “but then the pain hit me, so I just sat down right there. I knew something was broken – my whole foot was throbbing − I just thought it was my ankle.”

He wasn’t that lucky. Albarado’s heel was fractured – the bone is called the calcaneus – severely enough to require surgery. The procedure will take place Monday with the insertion of two pins and a plate, after which the rider will need to wear a rigid cast for the initial period of healing.

“Having the surgery should expedite the healing process,” Albarado said. He has circled March as his target for return.

A story about a jockey getting hurt has about the same headline impact of “Dog Goes Woof.” So what else is new? In the past year or so such major talents as Julien Leparoux, John Velazquez, Garrett Gomez, Rafael Bejarano, Joe Talamo, and Tyler Baze have sustained varying degrees of damage, though none of them career ending.

Based upon his two most recent wrecks, however, Albarado qualifies as particularly unblessed. The fractured heel occurred less than five months after he broke a finger and his collarbone at Saratoga, where he was pitched to the turf when his horse stumbled while pulling up after a race. Such accidents, while not unusual, go contrary to the idea that the most dangerous part of the game is between flagfall and finish.

“That’s what’s kind of depressing a little bit,” Albarado said. “If it was something I did in a race, if I dropped myself or somebody fell in front of me or a horse broke their leg – not that the result is any different, but it’s just been kind of freaky. Like, ‘Hey, that’s not supposed to happen.’ ”

He has a point. Albarado has ridden 25,989 races – 4,281 of them winners − a total that has afforded him ample opportunity for injuries. He has had his share, including a pair of skull fractures in 1998 and 1999 that left him with a metal plate and a warning that he had pretty much used up his allotment of blows to the head.

On that score, at least, he’s been lucky. In fact, the ensuing decade was by far the best of Albarado’s career. By some measures it can be said there were precious few riders who have enjoyed more exhilarating moments than Albarado during the first decade of the 21st century.

In 2003, he was the regular rider of Mineshaft, the Neil Howard-trained colt who ran roughshod over the Eastern and Midwestern handicap division. With Albarado attached, Mineshaft won the New Orleans, the Ben Ali, the Pimlico Special, the Suburban, the Woodward, and the Jockey Club Gold Cup, a record that earned him Horse of the Year.

In 2007, Albarado cut the right horse from the herd again when he landed the mount on Curlin in the Rebel Stakes that March. Through 15 races together, Curlin and Albarado won the Breeders’ Cup Classic, the Dubai World Cup, the Preakness, the Haskell, the Arkansas Derby, the Woodward, and two runnings of the Jockey Club Gold Cup, taking Horse of the Year in 2007 and 2008.

If Albarado is content to rest on such laurels he doesn’t show it. He has yet to win the Kentucky Derby, which remains his number one priority, especially since Louisville is his adopted home, as well as headquarters of the Robby Albarado Foundation, which, according to its mission statement, “was established to assist the homeless, socially and economically disadvantaged, and those less fortunate in the Louisville, Ky., area.”

Albarado puts such words into action, making regular trips of outreach to schools and local charitable activities, which means he will have more such opportunities while he mends. But like most riders, he bristles at inactivity.

“If anything positive comes out of it, I get to spend quality time with my wife and kids at home,” he said. “Anybody who works around the racetrack knows we’re always coming and going, on the road or out early in the morning, only having a couple hours here and there to be at home. At times like these I can do things like take the kids to school in the morning and pick them up in the afternoon.

“Having said all that, I love what I do, and I’m very competitive, so it’s hard for me to sit home and watch the races,” Albarado said. “It’s been more than a week since I got hurt, and I haven’t watched a race yet. I’ll start paying attention to the 3-year-olds out there pretty soon, when I know a little better when I can come back. But not just yet.”

At times like these, Albarado can tap into his sardonic strain of Cajun humor, like when he was asked if he considered himself lucky he did not lead with his head this time around.

“Actually, that might have been good,” he said. “I might have broke the fence, all the metal I have up there.

“And you know, I really don’t need my heel to ride races,” he said. “We ride on our toes. So I’ll be OK once I can get on top of a horse. It’s a lot safer up there, anyway.”

Friday, January 14, 2011

INNER TRACK JOCKEY PROFILE: BRIAN PEDROZA

From NYRA Communications Department
 
His mother, Kim Davis, is a retired jockey, and his father, Martin Pedroza, has won over 3,200 races so far in his riding career. His agent, Steve Rushing, also carries the book of Ramon Dominguez, who has won 11 of the last 12 meet titles on The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) circuit and is one of the three finalists for the 2010 Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey.

 Pedroza, who turned 19 in October, grew up watching his father ply his trade in Southern California. He began galloping horses a year and a half ago and rode his first race in December 2009.

 At first, Pedroza’s father was reluctant to endorse his son’s career choice.

 “He didn’t want me to become a jockey, but he started liking it when I began to ride and became good,” said the 19-year-old. “He talks to me after every race and reminds me to use my left-hand stick. He says, ‘As soon as you turn for home, use the left-hand stick, no matter what. You get way more out of a horse using your left-hand stick.’”

 Pedroza began his career in the Mid-Atlantic region, compiling 34 wins from 231 mounts while riding at tracks such as Laurel Park, Pimlico, and Delaware Park.

 “I thought California was tough, and so many riders started their careers in Maryland, like Kent Desormeaux, Edgar Prado, and Chris McCarron,” said Pedroza of his decision to move to the East coast.

 Needing a place to compete over the winter, Pedroza’s father acted decisively and confidently on his son’s behalf, telephoning Rushing and asking the agent to represent his son.

 “After he said he would, I packed up and came to New York as soon as possible,” said Pedroza.

 Even though he has won eight races from 72 mounts at Aqueduct and is tied for eighth in the inner track jockey standings, the ambitious apprentice isn’t satisfied with his current numbers.

 “I think I should be doing better, but I’m doing the best I can,” said Pedroza. “It takes time.”

 Pedroza realizes breaking into the NYRA riding colony is a tough task, but is hopeful he can ride in New York on an extended basis.

 “I want to establish myself here,” said Pedroza. “Here I can ride at Aqueduct, Belmont, and Saratoga and stay in one spot, and there are a lot of people at the track yelling. It’s exciting.”

 

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Quietly Improving Lives - By Nancy Kelly

Nancy Kelly is the executive director of The Jockey Club Foundation. The foundation provides assistance to individuals in the industry who have demonstrated a sufficient lack of resources and have a genuine need.

Julie works on the front side of a racetrack and lives in the New England area. She has a special needs daughter who has suffered the consequences of drastic budget cutbacks for autism services in her state.

Mike, a former jockey and exercise rider, was blinded in an early morning backstretch accident. He lives in Florida and is undergoing rehabilitation. He also is taking computer courses to make himself more self-sufficient. He is also battling Crohn’s disease and is unable to work.

Madeline spent her life working on the backstretch in a Midwestern state but is not physically able to do so now. She has trouble paying her rent.

Ruth lives in the Northeast. Her husband was a blacksmith and they were saddled with astronomical medical bills before his recent death. She needs living expenses to survive.

What do these five people have in common?

They are all longtime members of the Thoroughbred community and are all receiving financial assistance from The Jockey Club Foundation to improve their quality of life.

And as 2011 begins, the foundation will continue helping them and others in their time of need.

These five people have something else in common: None of them had heard of The Jockey Club Foundation until it extended a helping hand. That might be because all assistance is provided on a confidential basis, as it has been since the foundation was formed in 1943. Since then, The Jockey Club Foundation has distributed approximately $13.5 million in assistance. Financial assistance is based on individual need through one-time, lump-sum grants, short-term assistance, or through a longer-term monthly assistance program.

Recipients represent virtually every facet of the Thoroughbred industry, from jockeys, trainers, exercise riders, and grooms to office personnel and other employees of racetracks, racing organizations, and breeding farms.
The foundation is governed by a board of three trustees: New York Racing Association chairman Steve Duncker, prominent owner/breeder Helen Alexander, and longtime industry executive D.G. Van Clief Jr. All give generously of their time and are deeply committed to the mission and work of the foundation.

We have been able to expand awareness of the foundation and increase the number of recipients in the past few years with the assistance of the Racetrack Chaplaincy of America. As anyone who has spent time around the racetrack knows, chaplains are often the first to learn of an unfortunate circumstance. So they often reach out to us or send people our way.

Frequently, someone we have helped in the past will point a friend or acquaintance in our direction. There have been times when a past recipient has contacted us directly to begin the process of helping a friend or acquaintance.

We also work closely with other organizations, including Blue Grass Farms Charities, the Don MacBeth Memorial Jockey Fund, the Jockeys’ Guild, and the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund.

Assistance can come in many forms: payment for funerals, physical therapy, doctor’s bills, or medication not covered by insurance. We have frequently purchased wheelchairs and other types of equipment to help disabled people operate motor vehicles.

A few years ago the foundation provided assistance to horsemen and other victims of Hurricane Katrina. In recent months the foundation has helped Thoroughbred industry employees in California, Florida, Louisiana, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Canada.

The heartwarming cards, letters, and calls we’ve gotten over the past 25 years affirm how much people appreciate the assistance provided by The Jockey Club Foundation.

As expected, the economic downturn over the past few years has dramatically impacted charitable giving. With the exception of our Fashionable Fillies fundraising luncheon in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., each August, we rely almost exclusively on donations from individuals and organizations.

Those contributions are now more important than ever. They enable us to help Joe, Julie, Mike, Madeline, and Ruth…and many others in similar circumstances. 
(Originally published in the January 15, 2011 issue of The Blood-Horse magazine.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Despite Setbacks, Parker Claims Riding Title

By  Jason Shandler/The Blood-Horse 
 
Though he came back with a vengeance by winning races at a remarkable clip, Parker had another setback in early July when he broke two bones in his foot and cracked a pair of ribs in a spill at Mountaineer. At that point, the 39-year-old jockey was just hoping to stay healthy the rest of the year.

“I had a goal at the beginning of the year (to win a riding title), but after the first two months I didn’t even think about it,” said Parker, who was third in wins in 2009 and second in 2008. “I started winning a lot of races again after that, but then when I broke my foot I missed about three more weeks. I just wanted to get healthy after that.”

But as the year went on and Parker continued to win races in bunches, including a six-win day late in the summer, remarkably Parker kept himself within reach of the national leader, Ramon Dominguez. In third-place in the standings for much of the fall, he eventually closed in on Dominguez and by December was closing in on his first win title.

“People were telling me I was close, but I’m kind of superstitious so I didn’t want to look,” Parker said. “I knew I was getting close but I wasn’t sure. People kept telling me to look.”

By mid-December Parker finally overtook the New York-based Dominguez and after furiously securing all the mounts he could, including taking mounts at Presque Isle Downs & Casino and even Beulah Park one day, he ended the year eight wins ahead. By the time 2010 had ended, Parker had ridden 377 winners, and despite missing nearly three months of action, he wound up with a national-best 1,552 mounts. He also won at 24% clip during the year.

“I worked hard and I’m proud of it,” Parker said. “It was definitely the best accomplishment of my career. It took a lot away from my family life, but I had a goal. I have to give a lot of credit to my agent, Billy Johnson. He was able to get me on a lot of good horses.”

Parker, whose horses earned more than $3.8 million from his rides in 2010, has been riding professionally since 1988. He is the winningiest African-American jockey in North American history with more than 3,500 victories.

Easily recognizable at 5-foot-10, Parker has overcome many obstacles throughout his career, which began at Thistledown in Ohio. He has been based at Mountaineer for some time. Parker’s father, Darryl, was the first African-American racing steward in North America.

Despite accomplishing his goal, Parker does not plan to rest of his laurels. For the first time in his career he is riding at the Tampa Bay Downs winter meet, and he expects to be partially based in Indiana in 2011.

He is even open to moving his tack to Kentucky if the opportunity arises. No matter where he winds up, Parker doesn’t plan on slowing down any time soon.

“I enjoy winning and success,” Parker said. “I don’t expect to cut back that much. I’ll see how it goes, but you have to keep it going while you’re going good.”




Read more: http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/60601/despite-setbacks-parker-claims-riding-title#ixzz1AGLvHoRx
Thursday, January 06, 2011

Bejarano Named TT TODAY Jockey of the Week

Bejarano, 28, posted $406,820 in earnings from 32 starters during the period. He won ten races, which tied for third among North American jockeys for the week.

A native of Peru, Bejarano enters 2011 off a solid 2010 campaign that saw him win six Grade 1 races, including the Kentucky Oaks (G1) with Blind Luck. He also rode Blind Luck to victory in the Las Virgenes Stakes (G1).

Additionally, Bejarano captured the Darley Alcibiades Stakes (G1) with Wickedly Perfect, the Yellow Ribbon Stakes (G1) aboard Hibaayeb (GB), the Gamely Stakes (G1) with Tuscan Evening (Ire), and the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic Stakes (G1) on Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1) day with General Quarters.
Thoroughbred Times TODAY
Tuesday, January 04, 2011

DOMINGUEZ AND STUDART PARTICIPATE ON 2011 MDA MUSCLE TEAM

 The Auction is a high-profile reception and fundraiser, offering guests the opportunity to mix and mingle with their favorite Metro-New York athletes. The annual event gathers top local athletes who have chosen to put their muscle behind the search to find a cure for neuromuscular diseases.

 Dominguez, the nation’s leading jockey in 2010 by purses earned, will be participating on the Muscle Team for the first time, while Studart is making her third appearance.

 "I’m very excited to be part of such an important fundraising event,” said Dominguez, who is also among the country’s top three jockeys in wins this year. “It’s great to come together with so many other New York-area athletes and bring awareness to a great cause.”

 In addition to Dominguez and Studart, the 2011 Muscle Team includes Jets LaDainian Tomlinson, Antonio Cromartie, Braylon Edwards, Kris Jenkins, Bryan Thomas, Steve Weatherford, and Jamaal Westerman, Giants Mathias Kiwanuka, Antrel Rolle, Hakeem Nicks, Michael Boley, Lawrence Tynes, Matt Dodge, DJ Ware, Chris Snee, Ramses Barden, and Zak DeOssie, Ranger Brandon Dubinsky, and Knicks Landry Fields and Toney Douglas.

 Each member of the Muscle Team will be paired with an MDA Buddy – a child from the Metro-New York area affected by a neuromuscular disease.

 “We are excited to be celebrating the 14th Annual Muscle Team Gala & Benefit Auction,” said Emily Newberry, Associate Director of Business Development, MDA.  “The athletes comprising the 2011 Muscle Team will be more exciting than ever!”

 With the help of Metro-New York athletes putting their muscle behind the search for a cure over the past 13 years, MDA’s Muscle Team has raised almost $10 million. MDA's Muscle Team will likely exceed the $10 million mark this year as the 2011 Muscle TeamGala & Benefit Auction is expected to raise more than $1 million for those affected by a neuromuscular disease. All of the monies raised will fund MDA's research and program services in Metro-New York.

 For tickets to the 2011 Muscle Team Gala & Benefit Auction or information about MDA’s services, please call Emily Newberry at: 212-682-5272, or visit www.nymuscleteam.org.
NYRA Communications Department

 

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