Edited press release
All pro wide receiver Chad Johnson lived up to his pre-race predictions June 9 when he sprinted one-sixteenth of a mile in 11.1 seconds to defeat Thoroughbred racehorse Restore the Roar on the turf at River Downs in Ohio. The photo finish showed Johnson ahead by 12 horse lengths at the wire.
The popular Cincinnati Bengal agreed to the match race to bring attention to and benefit “Feed the Children,” a Christian, international, nonprofit relief organization with headquarters in Oklahoma City that delivers food, medicine, clothing, and other necessities to individuals, children, and families who lack these essentials due to famine, war, poverty, or natural disaster.
Johnson surprised many in the crowd of almost 10,000 on Belmont Stakes (gr. I) day when he jumped on an outrider’s horse and rode it around the paddock after the winner’s circle celebration. “I told the media I was going to do something they have never seen to celebrate,” Johnson said.
Restore the Roar, a 4-year-old colt named after a Bengal-themed cheer, broke well at the eighth pole but took a while to get up his momentum. “I rode him hard every jump of the way, but I think he's more of a route horse,” said Patricia Cooksey, who came out of retirement to challenge Johnson. In 1993, Cooksey defeated Bengal Chris Collinsworth in a similar match race at River Downs.
Johnson wore specially designed Bengal silks that were auctioned off for $1,800 to Rolf Obrecht after the race. Obrecht, a Thoroughbred owner who counts graded stakes winners Caller One and Western Pride among his many winners, owns a sports bar across form Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati.
“I'm going to bill my bar as Heads Up--home of the Ocho-Cinco silks,” Obrecht said.
A silent auction that featured many signed Chad Johnson items combined with a live auction to earn $7,000 for Feed the Children. The crowd at River Downs for the “Man versus Beast” promotion appeared to be the largest in years at the track.