Arcadia, CA — Don't tell the NCAA, but Kurt Hoover is contemplating a recruiting trip to the Bay Area before Santa Anita's jockeys play Holy Angels School in their annual charity basketball game on Thursday, Feb. 23, at La Salle High School in Pasadena.
HRTV's consummate analyst has coached the Santa Anita riders for more than a decade and was at the helm when 38-year-old Kerwin John launched his game-winning shot from the baseline that hit nothing but net in overtime last year to edge Holy Angels, 36-35.
John has since moved his tack to Golden Gate Fields in Northern California, where the native of St. Croix in the Virgin Islands ranks among the top five in the standings. He had 21 wins at Golden Gate through Thursday, placing him fourth in the standings. He had only 25 wins all of last year.
“We're looking for back-to-back wins this year and to do that, we might have to bring in Kerwin John from San Francisco,” said Hoover, who played basketball at Arcadia High School. “John might be the best player out of the Virgin Islands since Tim Duncan.”
Said John after last year's victory: “I played a little bit in the Virgin Islands, but not much, mostly in the streets, but not on any teams.”
Proceeds from the game benefit the Holy Angels athletic program and the Kentucky-based Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund (PDJF). Game time is 7 p.m.
The Eye on Jacob Foundation will co-sponsor the event which will again enjoy the support of Hall of Fame jockeys Eddie Delahoussaye, Laffit Pincay Jr., Gary Stevens and Mike Smith. All of these legendary jockeys will be available from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. and at halftime to autograph photos and other memorabilia. They will all serve as honorary captains as well.
Top jockey David Flores will again be the jockeys' game captain. “This is something we look forward to every year,” said Flores. “It's just a fun night and it's great to be able to bring our families and have some laughs—and who knows, we might even win.
“It's nice to be able to meet all the young kids from Holy Angels and to be able to raise money for their school and for the PDJF. Racing is a great game, but it's also very dangerous. There are a lot of guys around the country who have been injured badly and we need to try and do all that we can for them.”
The Eye on Jacob Foundation is named for the 13-year-old son of Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux, who was diagnosed several years ago with Usher's Syndrome, a rare disorder that causes loss of hearing, imbalance and eventual loss of sight in approximately 12,000 children in the United States.
“We're very happy to be a part of this event,” said Jacob's mother, Sonia Desormeaux. “We're hoping to be able to provide some nice prizes and to make people aware of Usher's Syndrome, which is extremely rare. Jacob is looking forward to the game and he's elated that he's going to be able to be a part of it and that he'll be able to be with the jockeys during the game.”
Raffle items include: a 20-inch street, trail and park bike, valued at $369 that has been donated by manufacturer Free Agent and Temple City Bike Shop; a 29er mountain bike, valued at $600, donated by Diamond Back and Temple City Bike Shop, as well as basketballs which will be signed by all jockeys and student-players.
Other prizes include one free Santa Anita Club House admission for every two game tickets purchased, as well as a halftime chance for five people to make a half-court free throw and win two nights at Treasure Island, Las Vegas. Additional prizes will be announced prior to and during the game.
This year's Santa Anita jockey team is expected to include: Captain David Flores, Paul Atkinson, Rafael Bejarano, Hector Berrios, Alex Bisono, Brice Blanc, Antonio Castanon, Keiber Coa, Victor Espinoza, Omar Figueroa, Eswan Flores, Martin Garcia, Mario Gutierrez, Kevin Krigger, Modesto Linares, Edwin Maldonado, Corey Nakatani, Alonso Quinonez, Joel Rosario, Christian Santiago Reyes, Kayla Stra, Chantal Sutherland, Mike Smith, Joe Talamo and perhaps others.
While Hoover will again coach the jockeys' squad, Matt Denny's Restaurant owner Matt McSweeny and his friend Marcel Pidoux will head the Holy Angel's crew.
La Salle High School is located at the southwest corner of Michillinda Ave. and Sierra Madre Blvd. in Pasadena, approximately four miles northwest of Santa Anita Park. Admission is $5.
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