'Peruvian All-Stars' to Compete at River Downs

Several of the top jockeys in the country will converge on River Downs in Ohio July 11 for the first "Peruvian All-Stars" challenge to benefit the Jockey School of Peru.

The event will feature graduates of the school. Rafael Bejarano, who won his first race in the United States at River Downs July 10, 2002, and last year led the nation in wins, will be honored as well.

At least two races on the Monday program will be devoted to Peruvian riders. According to River Downs, the following jockeys are expected to compete along with Bejarano: Edgar Prado (who is based in New York), Jorge Chavez (New York), Jose Valdivia Jr. (California), John Jacinto (Louisiana), Pablo Tolentino (Italy), Carlos Nieto (Pennsylvania), David Cora (Virginia/Pennsylvania), Marco Ccamaque (West Virginia/Ohio), Hubert Villa-Gomez (Ohio/West Virginia), Miguel Mena (Illinois), Godofredo Laurente (Kentucky/Indiana), Cesar Mejia (Kentucky/Indiana), Zavella Ore (Kentucky/Indiana), Edgar Paucar (Ohio), Cesar Ccamaque (Ohio), and Juan Enriquez (Ohio).

Trainer Dante Zanelli Jr., whose father was a leading trainer in Peru, brought Bejarano to the U.S. and put him on his first winner. Zanelli is spearheading the event not only to recognize the achievements of Bejarano, but also to focus attention on the Jockey School of Peru and its growing number of successful graduates.

"All of these riders are graduates of the same school and have come up under the guidance of Teo Baldo, a great horseman and teacher," Zanelli, a third-generation horseman, said in a release. "The school is in need of money, and Edgar (Prado) is like a pioneer of the school. He's the unofficial 'Ambassador of Peru.' In addition to honoring Rafael, we hope to raise money for the program and bring attention to the other accomplished graduates now riding here."

To help raise money for the school, the riders will donate half of their earnings that day to the program, while the other half will help defray expenses for the event. River Downs will hold a silent auction and will provide photos of the top riders that will be available to the public to be autographed with a donation to the school.