Wednesday, May 13, 2009


BALTIMORE, 05-12-09---The top four riders in the country based on earnings, two Hall of Fame jockeys with Preakness victories, another who has won the middle jewel of the Triple Crown, Maryland's all-time winningest rider and Eclipse Award winners Kent Desormeaux and Garrett Gomez, will do battle in the first Jockey Challenge at Pimlico Race Course which will be contested during Friday's Black-Eyed Susan program.

Riders will accumulate points for finishing first (12), second (6), third (4) and fourth (3) in each race with the winner of the series receiving $14,000. Other prize money includes $10,000 for finishing second, $8,000 for third and $3,500 for fourth through eighth.

Races involved in the challenge will be the third, a $26,000 allowance, the fifth, an optional allowance-claiming test, the seventh, a $30,000 allowance, and the 10th, another optional allowance-claimer.

Through yesterday, Gomez leads the earnings list with $6,788,023 followed in order by Julien Leparoux ($6,261,152), Rafael Bejarano ($6,252,166) and Ramon Dominguez ($5,164,351). Desormeaux (Real Quiet in 1998 and Big Brown in 2008), Javier Castellano (Bernardini in 2006) and Mike Smith (Prairie Bayou in 1993) have all captured the Preakness and Mario Pino has visited the winners’ circle nearly 5,000 times at Pimlico and Laurel Park.

"It's an honor to be considered and involved," said Dominguez, who led the nation with 431 wins while riding in Maryland in 2001. "Everything beyond that is a plus. I guess the track handicapper (Frank Carulli) is doing the handicapping and it'll be set up so everybody has a fair shot. And, it's definitely for a good cause so everything is well with it."

All the jockeys will participate in a morning autograph session in the Pimlico grandstand and a special souvenir poster will be made available.

"We wanted to provide some added spark to the Black-Eyed Susan card and jockey promotions have been popular with fans throughout the years," said Pimlico president Tom Chuckas.

The Maryland Jockey Club is making a $5,000 contribution to the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund and teaming with the Jockey's Guild for this event, a four-race competition.

"The jockeys look forward to working with the Maryland Jockey Club to present a special day of racing for the fans," said Terry Meyocks, National Manager of the Jockeys' Guild. "With an autograph session in addition to the competition on the track, fans will be able to meet their favorite riders....the event is a win for racing, the fans and riders who have suffered life-changing injuries."

As of May 12, the eight riders have combined to win 28,151 races for more than $1 billion in purses.

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