Jockeys raise funding and awareness for PDJF
The Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund (PDJF) hosted its fourth annual “Racing Across America” event Saturday, July 29 through Monday, July 31, joining more than 30 tracks nationally for the annual event. Jockeys from Indiana Grand hosted their event Saturday, July 29 featuring a dunk tank, tug of war, foot race from the starting gate and “pass the boot” sessions to help the cause.
PDJF currently serves 60 disabled jockeys, most of which incurred either paralysis or brain damage due to racing incidents on the track. The local jockey colony knows the importance of supporting such a worthwhile cause and dedicated their time and resources to “Racing Across America.”
Erica Murray, Alex Contreras and Diego Rodriguez each went through the apron area with a jock’s boot to get donations from racing fans. As a result, more than $162.00 was collected from the public.
The jockeys continued the momentum with a foot race following the second race on the program. Leandro Goncalves got out of the gate quick and had the early lead, but it was Malcolm Franklin who surged to the lead halfway through the race and took home the title. Goncalves was second followed by Jose Beltran for third, Constantino Roman for fourth and Katie Clawson for fifth. Other starters in the foot race included Erica Murray, Mari Rodriguez, Marcelino Pedroza, Oscar Macias, Leonel Bolanos and Giovani Vazquez-Gomez.
The trio of Vazquez-Gomez, Macias, Bolanos and Rolando Pina were the first to get in the dunk tank. Other jockeys who spent time in the tank, with $1 buying three tries to dunk them, included Rodney Prescott, Erica Murray, Richard Bracho, and Indiana Grand’s on-air racing analyst Rachel McLaughlin. A total of $181.00 was raised for PDJF through the Dunk Tank.
The final event of the night was the annual Tug Of War between the jockeys and the track maintenance crew. Members of the track maintenance crew arrived in style for the battle, pulling up on the water trucks and tractors in a convoy with hopes of sending some intimidation to the jockeys. However, the jockeys were up to the task for the fourth straight year, defeating the track maintenance crew and retaining their undefeated title.
Jockeys participating in the Tug of War included Richard Bracho, Rolando Pina, Oscar Macias, Eddie Perez, Giovani Vazquez-Gomez, DeShawn Parker, Constantino Roman, Malcolm Franklin, Katie Clawson, Tommy Pompell, Marcelino Pedroza and Rodney Prescott. The total weight of the jockeys was 1,220 pounds going against the track maintenance crew that had a total weight of 1,247 pounds. Steve Cahill, clerk of scales, served as the coach for the jockeys while Roy Smith, track superintendent, was the coach for the track maintenance team. Nancy Holthus, paddock analyst, served as the emcee for the Tug of War and Foot Race.
The evening was paired with “Back to School Night” with the Indiana Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA) providing 14 backpacks filled with school supplies through drawings. In addition, they also provided an iPad giveaway. Other complimentary activities on the evening included an appearance by Monsters Inc., a bounce house, airbrush tattoos, and face painting.