During a press conference held at Churchill Downs Tuesday morning, Jockeys’ Guild manager Dwight Manley called for support of the Disabled Jockeys’ Fund as Edgar Prado formally donated the saddle worn by Barbaro, winner of the 2006 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), to the fund.
“The Disabled Jockeys’ Fund is basically operating month-to-month with support from NTRA tracks,” Manley said of the program.
Manley also said the fund was unable to make this month’s payments to all of the 58 permanently disabled riders in its care. He blamed lack of support from horsemen in the industry as the main reason for the fund’s struggles since its organization in the spring of 2006.
“I’ve seen the real tragedy of what happens to somebody whose career and life is taken away from them,” Manley said. “My understanding is that if the horsemen fulfilled their commitments, the month-to-month needs of these people would be met. From my point of view, taking care of these jockeys who have been pushed aside for a long time is a high priority.”
“My fellow jockeys are in need,” Prado said. “This saddle is one I saved for big races, it’s a part of my life because I used it to ride Barbaro, but it’s more valuable now to support the fund. It’s time to step up to the plate and do what I can.”
Prado’s red-and-white leather saddle, autographed and used by the jockey in the 2002 and 2004 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) as well as the 2006 Preakness (gr. I), will be auctioned by Christie’s of London at the Mint Jubilee Gala in Louisville on May 4, the night before this year’s Derby. The jockeys’ gala of choice for the past 11 years, the Mint Jubliee Gala raises funds for the James Graham Brown Cancer Center and Gilda’s Club of Louisville. Funds from the sale of the saddle, however, will go directly to the Disabled Jockeys’ Fund, a division of NTRA charities.
“The value of the saddle is certainly priceless because of the connection to Barbaro,” Manley said. “Barbaro came along at a point when people were looking for something, and that was greatness, and he gave it to them. Although the horse has died, this is something that is going to live on.”
The press conference at Churchill Downs marked a restored relationship between the Guild and the Louisville track. Both parties recently came to an agreement over a lawsuit related to jockey boycotts at two Churchill Downs-owned racetracks that had been pending since 2004.
“My time here dealing with Churchill Downs and Steve Sexton has been nothing but superb,” Manley said. “Hopefully this is one of the first of many things we can do together to get the fans and the industry involved and show that collectively, we can achieve something good together.”
During the press conference, the saddle was marked with a synthetic DNA strand used to certify other historic sports items such as footballs used in Super Bowl games. The identification system was developed by PSA/DNA Authentication Services of Newport Beach, California, the world's largest sports memorabilia certification company and a division of Collectors Universe, Inc.