Seven countries will be represented Saturday, June 29, for the sixth annual World Jockey Challenge. A total of 36 jockeys, both Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse, are slated to ride and will accumulate points for their individual countries by finishing among the top four during the 10-race card that begins at 6:15 p.m. The country with the most points at the end of the night will be declared the winner of the World Jockey Challenge.
Leading the way is the group from the United States, which will have 12 riders competing for the American team. Included on Team USA is Malcolm Franklin, Natasha Fritz, Shanley Jackson, Cory Orm, Berkley Packer, DeShawn Parker, Rodney Prescott, Joe Rocco Jr., Kendal Sterritt, Stewart Elliott, Virginia Tormey, and Rayan Gazader. The U.S. Team has won the contest the past four years, but will find big competition from Team Panama, consisting of leading jockey Marcelino Pedroza, Santo Sanjur and Rogelio Miranda. The trio of jockeys are scheduled to ride 14 horses during the night, many of which are favorites in their respective races.
The team with the most numbers will represent Mexico as 13 jockeys will make up the team. Representing Mexico is Jose Beltran, Ezequiel Lara, Gerardo Garrido, Juan Marquez, L. Daniel Martinez, Eddie Perez, German Rodriguez, Leonardo Rodriguez, Giovani Vazquez-Gomez, Juan Galvan, Fernando Fonseca-Soto, Samuel Mendez and Ruben Cacho. Mexico is always well represented in the Quarter Horse races, which are the final two events on the card, creating a fun finish each year.
Other countries involved in the World Jockey Challenge include Chile (Andres Ulloa); Peru (Fernando De la Cruz, Jose Riquelme, Ronald Hisby); Puerto Rico (Sammy Bermudez, Joseph Ramos, Hector Rosario Jr.); and Venezuela (Carlos Villasana, Samuel Camacho Jr.).
Ten points will be awarded to the winner of each race with five points awarded to second place. Third place finishers will receive three points for their country while one point will be awarded to all official fourth place finishers.
In addition to the World Jockey Challenge, the event tagged as “International Fest” will feature free kids activities including face painting, an inflatable and strolling entertainment. Also, beverages from around the world will be featured on the racing side.
Along with “International Fest,” the Quarter Horse Racing Association of Indiana (QHRAI) will host the QHRAI Youth Racing Experience, giving high school students the opportunity to learn about Quarter Horses with hands on experience as well as a chance for a $1,000 scholarship.
Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing continues through Wednesday, Nov. 6. Racing is conducted Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday at 2:15 p.m. and Saturday at 6:15 p.m. More information about the season is available at www.indianagrand.com.