Jockeys raise funds and awareness for PDJF

The Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund (PDJF) provided its third annual “Racing Across America” program Saturday, July 30 and Indiana Grand jockeys supported the event through several different activities during the night. In addition, the evening was tagged as “Back to School” night featuring 16 backpack giveaways provided by the Indiana HBPA (Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association). The evening was highlighted by an iPad giveaway that was won by a local fourth grader preparing for school.

Jockeys first got involved with “Racing Across America” by going up against five police officers from the Shelbyville Police department in a Tug of War competition. Ten jockeys were on one side of the rope and went pound for pound against the officers, winning the event in under 30 seconds. This is the third year for the Tug of War contest, and the jockeys have won the event all three years.

In addition to the Tug of War, eight jockeys participated in a foot race from the starting gate. Rolando Aragon, Omar Reyes, Marcelino Pedroza, Malcolm Franklin, Ramon Romero, Albin Jimenez, Smitty Oxendine and Sammy Bermudez, the defending champ, broke from the Steve Peterman starting gate for the 70-yard dash. Bermudez defended his title, running down Omar Reyes in the final strides while Malcolm Franklin finished third.

Jockeys also took turns sitting in the dunk tank to raise money for PDJF. Fans kept the line hopping throughout the night to dunk jockeys such as Malcolm Franklin, Rodney Prescott, Kaylia Albright, Rolando Aragon, Tommy Pompell, Marcelino Pedroza, Richard Bracho, Cesar Esqueda and others. Also, Rachel McLaughlin, on-air racing personality for Indiana Grand, spent time in the tank, all for a good cause.

To complement the evening, Toy Story characters Buzz Lightyear, Woody and Jessie roamed through the crowd handing out free school supplies. Also, face painting and a bounce house were provided as entertainment for the younger fans.

Several younger fans also went home with brand new backpacks from HBPA to get ready for the 2016-2017 school year. Two backpacks were given away after the first eight races on the program and each were filled with supplies. The evening was brought to a close with a drawing for an iPad and Miguel Cazares was the winner as he heads into fourth grade.


Jockeys break from the Steve Peterman starting gate for the annual foot race during PDJF Night. (Photo by Linscott Photography)
Jockeys break from the Steve Peterman starting gate for the annual foot race during PDJF Night. (Photo by Linscott Photography)

Also, Indiana Grand team member DeShaun French was honored during the night. French, a 2016 graduate of Shelbyville High School and standout athlete, was recognized for his excellent season in track. The 18-year-old finished fifth in the state in the 110 meter hurdles and established a new school record in that event. He is also headed to Central Michigan University, a division one school, on a full ride track and field scholarship later this month.