Bello Antes Up to Assist Disabled Riders, Guild

Edited press release

A California-based horse owner is donating $58,000 to the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund, and also making a separate "goodwill" donation of $250,000 to the financially struggling Jockeys’ Guild.

Orange County, Calif., building contractor Michael Bello, owner of multiple stakes winner Megahertz, is making the fund donation so 58 former riders each will receive their scheduled $1,000 relief payments in April, the Jockeys’ Guild said in an April 9 release.

“In addition to the emergency donation, he has pledged a quarter-million dollars for the Guild as a horse owner’s show of support to the nation’s jockeys,” Guild national manager Dwight Manley said. “Mike Bello is the person who recruited me last year for the job with the Guild because they needed business leadership and someone with experience turning around challenging situations--such as my earlier work with difficult NBA players.”

Bello said he hopes his contributions will prompt other horsemen to get involved.

“As a racehorse owner, I’ve developed friendships with many of the riders, and that’s given me the opportunity to see racing from a different perspective,” Bello said. “The jockeys are a group of hard-working, dedicated athletes who deserve more support. I’m grateful to Dwight Manley for stepping forward into this difficult position, and I’m showing him my support.”

The Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund is a registered 501(c) (3) nonprofit fund administered by National Thoroughbred Racing Association Charities. Earlier this month, Manley revealed the fund would not be able to send the planned $1,000 payment in April to 58 disabled riders who currently receive monthly assistance. He called on horsemen and others in the racing industry to provide more assistance.

On April 3, Manley and jockey Edgar Prado announced the saddle Barbaro wore while winning last year’s Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) will be offered in a public auction at this year’s Mint Jubilee Gala, May 4. All proceeds from the sale of the autographed red and leather saddle will be donated to the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund.

Bello said he’s interested in bidding on the saddle.