Fans, horsemen, jockeys, track employees, and members of the media gathered following the final race of the Santa Anita meet April 17 to walk on the track and raise funds to battle cancer. Bo Derek, Julie Krone, Jill Baffert, Carla Gaines, and Chantal Sutherland led the event, organized by Santa Anita. Track officials estimated that it raised about $100,000 for the Women’s Cancer Program of the City of Hope.
“I hope we can kick cancer’s butt,” said Sutherland before about 2,000 people left Santa Anita’s walking ring, headed for the tunnel, and began walking on the racetrack. Cancer survivors joined people who were walking for other family members and friends afflicted with cancer.
Jill Baffert said that she and her husband, trainer Bob Baffert, joined in for a very personal reason.
“Bob’s mom is battling ovarian cancer,” said Jill as she fought back tears.
Many wore special purple T-shirts commemorating the event, titled On Track to Beat Cancer. A $20 donation included admission to the track for the day, the T-shirt, and the walk.
Santa Anita positioned the starting gate at the eighth pole, and participants traveled down to it and back to the winner’s circle. Several jockeys, including Sutherland, Rafael Bejarano, Joel Rosario, and Joe Talamo, posed in the starting gate hold holding signs before the starting gate was sprung. Fans were able to pose in the gate as well as with the jockeys.
John and Dottie Shirreffs of Team Zenyatta eagerly participated, John with camera in hand photographing the entire event. Zenyatta signs abounded, and her name drew the biggest cheer when emcee Peter Lurie of HRTV listed many of the great horses who have galloped over the same stretch.
Derek posed for photos with several fans, and Bob Baffert was seen operating a fan’s camera to get a photograph of the fan with Derek.
“I’m so glad to be invited to be a part of this,” said Derek.
Officials of several racing organizations participated, including Santa Anita president George Haines, Oak Tree Racing Association executive vice president Sherwood Chillingworth, and an entire group from the California Retirement Management Account (CARMA), wrangled by CARMA co-founder Madeline Auerbach.
Rosie Ybarra, who runs the kitchen at Clocker’s Corner in the mornings, raised funds every morning, making sure that everyone who bought coffee also bought a T-shirt.
“My goal next year is to raise $5,000,” Ybarra said before setting off down the track herself.