The top four riders in the country based on earnings, two Hall of Fame jockeys with Preakness (gr. I) 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, which will be contested during the May 15 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (gr. II) 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 for the year with $6,788,023 followed in order by Julien Leparoux ($6,261,152), Rafael Bejarano ($6,252,166), and Ramon Dominguez ($5,164,351). Preakness-winning jockeys are Desormeaux (Real Quiet in 1998 and Big Brown in 2008), Javier Castellano (Bernardini in 2006), and Mike Smith (Prairie Bayou in 1993). Mario Pino has visited the winners’ circle nearly 5,000 times at Pimlico and Laurel.
"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.
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.