BALTIMORE, 04-23-12---The Maryland Jockey Club today announced that next Saturday’s Kentucky Derby card at Pimlico Race Course will feature a Jockey Challenge featuring four riders visiting from Venezuela competing against four from the Maryland colony.

The featured race on the card will be the $75,000 Canonero II Stakes for 3-year-olds. The Venezuelan-based colt won the 1971 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. The 1-1/16 mile race was previously known as the Federico Tesio Stakes.

“It is going to be a special day for the connections of Canonero II and the Maryland Jockey Club,” Maryland Jockey Club president Tom Chuckas said. “The Canonero II story was an incredible one and we thought it was a terrific idea to have a first-class celebration involving Venezuela in the first running of this race. We invited co-owner Pedro Baptista, trainer Juan Arias and jockey Gustavo Avila to be our guests and are looking forward to a terrific day.”

Avila, a Venezuelan rider, was aboard for the victories in the first two legs of the Triple Crown as well as fourth place finish in the Belmont Stakes.

The Venezuelan riders in Baltimore next Saturday will be Emisael Jaramillo, Santiago Gonzalez, Jean Carlo Rodriguez and Edgar Perez.

Jaramillo is the all-time leading jockey in Venezuela with more than 2,500 wins. He has been the leading rider at La Rinconada, the most important track in the country, for nine consecutive meets. The 35-year-old guided Water Jet to the Venezuelan Triple Crown in 2010 and rode Front Stage to victories in the 2000 filly Triple Crown series in Venezuela.

Gonzalez is poised to become the country’s fourth rider to reach the 2,000 win plateau. The 34-year-old is best known for riding Papa Lucas, who captured the Clasico Presidente de la Republica (G1) and Clasico Propietarios La Rinconada (G1).

Despite being only 23-years-old, Rodriguez has more than 1,050 career winners, including victories in the Clasico Juan Antonio Paez (G1) and the Clasico Comparacion (G1) aboard Il Macchiato.

Perez, the regular rider of Venezuelan champion filly Bambera (a winner of 15 races in 17 starts and Horse of the Year honors in 2009), had 104 victories in the United States in 2010 and 2011 while riding in Florida. The 33-year old finished eighth during the 2010 Tampa Bay Downs meet.

Representing the Maryland colony will be Abel Castellano, Malcolm Franklin, Horacio Karamanos and Julian Pimentel.

Castellano, a native of Maracaibo, Venezuela, has more than 1,500 career winners . He arrived in Maryland in 2003 and has been a top ten rider for nearly a decade. The 28-year-old has victories at more than 20 racetracks, including all three Triple Crown tracks as well as Gulfstream, Saratoga and Keeneland.

The 22-year-old Franklin has been a member of the Maryland colony since the fall of 2006 and has been a top ten rider the last three years. He rode a career-high five winners at Laurel Park on August 14, 2010 and finished second in the 2012 Laurel winter standings.

Karamanos, a native of Argentina, has more than 3,000 career winners, including nearly 1,500 in the Unites States. The 38-year-old has four riding titles in the state and another five at Colonial Downs. Karamanos tied a Laurel Park record by riding seven winners on October 26, 2002

After five years as one of the top riders on the New Jersey circuit, Pimentel moved his tack to Maryland during the summer 2006 and has been a fixture near the top of the standings. The 31-year-old native of Colombia finished second in the standings a year ago, won a career-best five races last October 11 and rode Norman Asbjornson in the Preakness Stakes (G1).

The jockey with the most points at the end of a three-race competition will be crowned champion. Riding assignments will be determined when the racing office draws the Derby Day program on Wednesday, May 2.

The jockeys receive points for finishing first (12 points), second (6), third (4) and fourth (3) in each race. The champion jockey will earn $10,000. Other prize money: $7,000 (second), $6,000 (third), $4,000 (fourth), $2,000 (fifth) and $1,000 (sixth through eighth).