BALTIMORE, 05-20-09---The Maryland racing community will have a benefit Sunday afternoon at Laurel Park for apprentice jockey Marion Cornwell, who was diagnosed with a cancerous tumor attached to his pancreas earlier this month.

A longtime exercise rider at Franklin Smith’s Elloree Training Center in South Carolina, Cornwell came north about five years ago and galloped horses for Eddie Gaudet and Steve Casey at the Bowie Training Center while picking up an occasional mount.

The 33-year-old has 12 career victories from 259 mounts for earnings of $149,094, according to Equibase. Cornwell rode his first winner in October 2007 and his last aboard Captain Zim at Pimlico Race Course on April 24. His only multiple win day occurred at Laurel Park on February 21, 2009.

“You cannot find one person with a negative thing to say about this kid,” said jockey agent Jay Burtis, who is helping to organize the event. “When he won his first race, the entire backstretch was cheering.”

The May 24th event, which takes place from 5-10 p.m. in the Laurel Dining Room, will feature food, drinks and dancing for $15 plus a silent auction. Auction items include signed items from jockey Calvin Borel, who has captured both legs of the Triple Crown this spring, autographed boxing gloves from former world champion Sugar Ray Leonard and a breeding season to 2005 Preakness and Belmont winner Afleet Alex.

“In a dog-eat-dog business when something tragic happens like this it is amazing how everyone rallies together,” added Burtis.