An all-star jockey cast anted up to raise more than $50,000 for the Simunye Project Oct. 6 in the first All-Star Jockeys' No-Limit Texas Hold 'Em Poker Tournament, presented by jockey Shane Sellers and Bridget Parker and coordinated by Javier Torres.
Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winners John Velazquez and Craig Perret, 1977 Triple Crown champion Jean Cruguet, and leading female jockey Rosie Napravnik were among the riders who participated in the tournament.
The event was held at The Castle Post in Versailles, Ky., on the evening of Oct. 6. Proceeds went to the Simunye Project, a 501(c)3 non-profit charitable organization established in 1996 by Parker to aid the impoverished people primarily in the KwaZulu-Natal area of South Africa.
The Simunye Project focuses on providing food, clothing, shelter, and other necessities to orphaned children and physically challenged adults, as well as promoting HIV/AIDS awareness and self-sufficiency development for the villagers in that area. Sellers serves on the board of directors for the organization and went on his first mission trip to South Africa earlier this year.
Attendee Connie Morton was the first-place winner and David Flores was the highest-finishing jockey in the poker tournament, taking eighth place.
The event also included silent and live auctions of donated items including signed Thoroughbred racing memorabilia, vacation and hunting packages, stallion seasons, and dinners with leading jockeys.
"We had a wonderful turnout and raised a lot of money, thanks to all my friends," said Sellers. "It would not have been possible without my friends who volunteered their time for the last few months."