Edited press release
On the day the “Test of Champions” is run at Belmont Park in New York, River Downs in Ohio will hold a championship race of a different kind: “Man versus Beast.”
For the benefit of his favorite charity, “Feed The Children,” outspoken Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chad Johnson will match strides with a racehorse June 9. The race will be billed as the feature race of the day, and it will be simulcast to more than 400 outlets across the country and in South America.
“Man vs. Beast” will take place on the turf course. The horse will break from the inside from a starting gate at the eighth pole, while Johnson will break from the outside rail and race one-sixteenth of a mile to the wire. The distances are calculated to give fans a photo finish.
Johnson won't be the first Bengal to race a horse in that fashion at River Downs. In July 1993, Cris Collinsworth attempted the feat and came up a nose short at the wire.
In the saddle that afternoon for the upset of Collinsworth was Patricia “P.J.” Cooksey, at one time the leading woman rider by number of wins. When rumor of the match race with Johnson surfaced, Cooksey said she would come out of retirement for the challenge in the saddle.
“Hey, I'm undefeated against the Bengals, and I plan on keeping it that way,” said the 46-year-old Cooksey, who was a regular at River Downs and nearby Turfway Park and currently serves as deputy executive director of the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority. “I’ve still got all my tack, and I'll get up on a few this week. Chad better have his running shoes on--tiger-striped or not.”
Restore The Roar, a horse named after a Cincinnati Bengal-themed cheer, will compete in the race. The 4-year-old colt is trained by Ivan Vasquez and owned by Patricia Genn.
“Our whole family loves the Bengals, and we named the colt about the time Marvin Lewis was turning the team around,” said Genn who operates Rheinland Farm in Lebanon, Ohio, with her husband, Wilhelm. “We've decided that after the match race, we will donate a portion of Restore The Roar's race winnings throughout his career to Chad's favorite charity, Feed The Children.”
Feed The Children is a Christian, international, nonprofit relief organization with headquarters in Oklahoma City that delivers food, medicine, clothing, and other necessities to individuals, children, and families who lack these essentials due to famine, war, poverty, or natural disaster.
River Downs will have a silent auction during the day featuring a limited amount of Chad Johnson-autographed items. There will also be other sports-related items to bid on such as tickets to games, concerts, and racing memorabilia and artwork. River Downs will accept “wagering” on the match race--essentially a “split the pot” format with the drawn winners receiving cash and prizes from the track and all additional proceeds going to Feed The Children.
“Man versus Beast” is expected to take place between 4-5 p.m. Eastern time, before the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) is run. Live racing at River Downs begins at 1:05.