Every horse that breaks from the starting gate in a race at a New York Racing Association track will generate a $1 donation to the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund, it was announced July 24 by the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association.
The NYTHA board voted to adopt the $1 per start contribution to help establish a reliable source of income for the PDJF, supplementing the many fundraising initiatives coordinated by the organization every year.
"We want to do our part to ensure that the permanently disabled jockeys have the assistance they need,” said NYTHA president Rick Violette Jr. “The coverage provided by workers' compensation and the revenue raised by benefit events only go so far. Donations made through per-start programs will create a steady stream of funding earmarked for the people who really need it."
Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez, a PDJF board member, welcomed the commitment.
"We have to raise almost a million dollars every year to support the jockeys who have been permanently disabled; who are no longer able to work, who can't support their families or themselves,” Velazquez said. “That's a tough task without a guaranteed source of funding. The jockeys in New York and many other tracks around the country give $1 per mount to the PDJF, and it's great that the New York horsemen want to help, too. We hope this idea will spread around the country. It's a much better way to raise the money we need."
NYTHA will present the PDJF with its first per-start donation, retroactive to the beginning of 2014, during a ceremony in the winner's circle at Saratoga Race Course July 26 in conjunction with the PDJF's "Day Across America." The PDJF will receive additional checks after each NYRA meet.
"On behalf of the Board of the Permanently Disabled Jockeys' Fund, we are so grateful for the leadership that NYTHA is taking to support the PDJF in this manner, and we welcome all of our racing partners to join NYTHA and many of the jockey colonies who have already adopted the $1 per start initiative for the PDJF," said PDJF president Nancy LaSala.