The saddle worn by Barbaro in the 2006 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) sold for $220,000 at the May 4 Mint Jubilee Gala, with proceeds of the sale going to the Permanently Disabled Jockeys' Fund.
Dwight Manley, national manager of the Jockeys’ Guild, was the winning bidder on the saddle, but allowed Roy and Gretchen Jackson to purchase it after there was slight confusion regarding the final high-bidder.
"After the auction they came up and said they thought they were winning bidder," Manley said. "I'm not sure how that could have happened, but they seemed determined that they wanted it. It was kind of a snap decision, but I bowed out and said I’d let them have it."
The Jacksons paid the purchase price of $220,000 while Manley decided to make a personal donation of $80,000 to the Permanently Disabled Jockeys' Fund, bringing the total raised for the fund to $300,000. According to Manley, the saddle will be on display at the Kentucky Derby Museum in Louisville.
"It definitely belongs in a museum, I like to see historical things being shared, and maybe that’s what I would have done since it was hammered down to me. But ultimately, this is where it belongs.
The saddle was donated by Eclipse Award winning jockey Edgar Prado to benefit the Permanently Disabled Jockeys’ Fund, an NTRA Charity managed by the Jockeys’ Guild, NTRA tracks, and horsemen’s organizations.
“I used this saddle during my career over the past 10 years and rode many great horses to victory,” Edgar Prado said before the auction. “But the most important time I used it was with Barbaro, and that is what makes it so special to me. It is something money can’t buy – it doesn’t matter how much it’s worth in the future, it matters how much it helps today.”
According to Manley, the funds raised by the sale of the saddle will support the 58 disabled jockeys who rely on the Permanently Disabled Jockeys’ Fund for less than four months. Manley, who was disappointed that the auction of the item did not draw more support from the crowd, said he still hoped the event would increase public awareness about the plight of permanently disabled jockeys.
“These jockeys gave everything so that the people in this room could enjoy the sport of horse racing and have a good time," Manley said following the auction. "There are people in this room who are worth millions, billions of dollars, so this definitely reflects poorly on them. However, the purchase price set a world record and I believe this item is priceless.”
Jockeys’ Guild chairman John Velazquez, attending the event with wife Leona, said he was excited to see people finally getting behind the fund he has championed since its’ inception.
“I think the sale of the saddle was a very special thing, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” he said. “But hopefully more people will step up to the plate and this will help to raise awareness. It’s very special to see an event of this magnitude support the fund.”