(from NYRA release)
Jockeys riding in the $1-million Shadwell Travers Stakes (gr. I) have pledged 10% of their purse earnings from the race to establish a fund for 23-year-old apprentice jockey Michael Straight, who was critically injured in a fall at Arlington Park Aug. 26.
The fund will be set up through the Don MacBeth Memorial Jockey Fund, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization based in Encino, Calif., whose mission is to assist injured and disabled riders.
“This was an easy decision,” said John Velazquez, chairman of the Jockeys’ Guild and rider of Quality Road , the morning-line favorite in the Travers. “What happened to Michael is a tragedy and we want to do whatever we can to help support him and his family during this difficult time.”
In addition to Velazquez, all six other riders in the Shadwell Travers – Julien Leparoux, Ramon Dominguez, Calvin Borel, Alan Garcia, Kent Desormeaux and Edgar Prado – will donate 10% of their purse earnings.
“Our family is overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from the industry,” said Matthew Straight, Michael’s twin brother, also a jockey. “We are so grateful and appreciative. We need to all stay positive and keep praying.”
Michael Straight was injured and taken to Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill., following an incident in the eighth race at Arlington Park. Straight fell from his mount and suffered injuries to the spine, including four broken vertebrae. Doctors at Lutheran General Hospital performed spinal surgery the following day and inserted a flexible rod to stabilize the spine.
Straight, a native of East Greenbush, N.Y., graduated from Chris McCarron’s North American Racing Academy in 2008. He won the first race of his career at Tampa Bay Downs in March 2009 and has ridden a total of 39 winners in 372 races.
The Jockeys’ Guild is making plans to put together a national effort to support the rider and his family at races across the country Sept. 5. Details will be released as soon as plans are finalized.
Donations to the Don MacBeth Memorial Jockeys Fund, earmarked for Michael Straight, should be sent to P.O. Box 18470/Encino, CA 91416. For more information on the MacBeth Memorial Jockey Fund, please visit: http://www.macbethfund.org.