The Jockeys’ Guild is bringing five disabled jockeys to the Breeders’ Cup World Championships.
“We feel that it’s important to recognize and honor those riders who have suffered disabling injuries while on the track,” said John Velazquez, an active jockey and board chairman of the Guild. “We want to show our appreciation for their efforts over the years and want them to have a great two days at the races.”
Among the disabled jockeys who will be attending the Breeders’ Cup as guests of the Guild is Eibar Coa, who won last year’s Breeders’ Cup Sprint (gr. I) on Big Drama. Coa suffered a severe spinal injury February 18 at a spill at Gulfstream Park, and is continuing his rehabilitation.
Other guests include:
Michael Straight, who was injured at Arlington Park in August 2009. He suffered head and spinal cord injuries and is paralyzed from the waist down;
Randall Meier, who suffered a severe injury and cervical fracture during a fall at Hawthorne Race Course in December 2009;
Gary Birzer, who suffered a spinal cord injury and remains paralyzed from the waist down after an accident at Mountaineer Race Track in July 2004;
Janio Cruz, who suffered a fractured vertebra at Turf Paradise earlier this year.
“These men and women jockeys have been inspirational to all of us,” Velazquez said. “Their competitive spirit has kept them fighting through their injuries. It will be a pleasure to host each of them at the Breeders’ Cup later this week.”