At a news conference held in the press box at Pimlico Race Course May 16, a check for $500,000 was presented by NetJets to the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund. On hand at the event were jockeys John Velazquez, chairman of the Jockeys' Guild; top rider Edgar Prado; disabled rider Jackie Fires; and Alex Waldrop, president of NTRA Charities.
NetJets helped raise the money by sponsoring all 20 jockeys in the May 3 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I). With the cooperation of the owners and Churchill Downs, the riders wore the NetJets logo on their riding pants. Each jockey was paid $10,000 for their endorsement, and all riders donated their proceeds to NTRA Charities, for a total of $200,000. NetsJets made a corporate donation of $100,000, which was matched by a personal $100,000 donation by NetJets chairman and CEO Richard Santulli. While in discussions with the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association to get owners approval for the Derby promotion, TOBA chairman Bill Casner kicked in another $100,000.
“This is close to our heart, and I’d personally like to thank Mr. Santulli,” said Velazquez, a two-time Eclipse Award winning rider.
“It is a significant donation that will help those with life-altering disabilities due to injury,” said Fires. “I’d personally like to thank Mr. Santulli and Mr. Casner. I’d also like to thank Churchill Downs and the owners of the Derby horses for their cooperation.”
The $500,000 sum is the largest ever gift in the history of the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund, which has raised $2.5 million and has distributed $1.4 million.
“This is a shining example of what we can do as an industry,” said Waldrop. “It is a great promotion for the game. I’d like to thank the owners of all of the Triple Crown horses. They are a big part of this.
For the Preakness Stakes (gr. I), all 12 riders will again be wearing the NetJets logo with the proceeds going to be split between the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation and The Jockey Club Foundation. Each rider will receive $7,500, good for a total of $90,000.
For more, go to www.ntracharities.org.