Hall of Fame Rider Ron Turcotte, best known as the jockey aboard Secretariat, winner of the Triple Crown in 1973, will serve as the Honorary Chairman of the 2015 “Jockeys and Jeans” fundraiser set for Saturday, May 30 at Indiana Grand Racing & Casino. The event will raise funds for the Permanently Disabled Jockey's Fund (PDJF), which is an independent 501(c) (3) public charity that provides financial assistance to former jockeys who have suffered catastrophic on-track injuries. Turcotte heads an impressive list of jockey legends and local celebrities that will be on hand to support PDJF at “Jockeys and Jeans.”
A native of Drummond, New Brunswick, Canada, Turcotte began his riding career in Ontario in 1962. Turcotte won his first Kentucky Derby aboard Riva Ridge in 1972 and returned the following season to his legendary season aboard Secretariat by sweeping all three legs of the Triple Crown in 1973, establishing track records for both the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes, a race that he and “Big Red” won by 31 lengths.
“I still remember that historic stretch drive by Secretariat and Ron Turcotte in the Belmont Stakes, and to have someone of that magnitude at our facility and serving as the honorary chairman of 'Jockeys and Jeans' is truly an honor,” said Jim Brown, President and COO of Centaur Gaming as well as general manager at Indiana Grand. “Ron's participation brings this event to a whole new level. He is so well respected both in and out of horse racing and we are beyond excited to have him involved in what is most important for that night; raising money for PDJF.”
Turcotte was sidelined from racing in 1978 after a racing incident left him paralyzed from the waist down. Now confined to a wheelchair, his presence at “Jockeys and Jeans” is a personal journey and one that brings a significant amount of awareness to PDJF, which has been assisting riders since its inception in 2006.
Turcotte will be joined by the only other two living Triple Crown winning jockeys Jean Cruguet and Steve Cauthen. Cruguet, a native of France, guided Seattle Slew to victory in the 1977 Triple Crown series and retired with more than 2,400 career victories. Cauthen became a national sensation as the 17-year-old rider of Affirmed, who won the Triple Crown in 1978. He became known as “The Kid” and was featured on the cover of numerous publications, including “Sports Illustrated.” His win aboard Affirmed in the 1978 Triple Crown is the last time the elusive honor has been achieved in horse racing.
The Triple Crown living legends lead an exclusive list of other Hall of Fame riders that will be in attendance for “Jockeys and Jeans,” including Laffit Pincay Jr., Pat Day, Chris McCarron, Walter Blum, Bill Boland, Randy Romero, Patricia “PJ” Cooksey, Dave Erb, Earlie Fires, Sandy Hawley, John Rotz, Mike Manganello, winner of the 1970 Kentucky Derby aboard Dust Commander, and Mary Russ Tortora, first female jockey to win a Graded Stakes race. All jockeys are coming together for one message and one reason: to support fellow riders and PDJF.
“Serving as host of 'Jockeys and Jeans' is another example of our commitment to racing and the progress we are achieving in horse racing, not only in the state of Indiana, but on a national level,” said Rod Ratcliff, chairman and CEO of Centaur Gaming. “It's very important to us that both of our facilities, Hoosier Park and Indiana Grand, step up as leaders in the horse racing industry for worthwhile events such as this one, and we are very proud to be part of this event.”
Honorary guests for the event will be Michael Straight, Stacy Burton and Jack Fires, all jockeys who experienced on-track incidents that ended their racing careers. They will join Ron Turcotte in showcasing the importance of PDJF and the value of awareness and support of the organization, which currently assists 61 disabled jockeys.
“The list of former jockeys that have eagerly stepped forward to support 'Jockeys and Jeans' is overwhelming,” said Jon Schuster, vice president and general manager of racing at Indiana Grand. “This is a very rare occasion to have such talent in one place at one time. The prestigious races and number of wins that these riders have accumulated during their stellar careers is unparalleled. We are very proud to partner with the 'Jockeys and Jeans' committee and join them on their mission to raise awareness and funding for a cause that is so important in our industry.”
In addition to racing legends, several local celebrities will be in attendance, including Bobby “Slick” Leonard, 2014 Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame inductee, Rupert Boneham, winner on the “Survivor” television series, Darnell Hillman, two-time ABA champion, Don Buse, two-time ABA and NBA All Star, and Mel Daniels, three-time ABA champion and Hall of Fame member. The celebrities are part of the honorary committee for “Jockeys and Jeans” who are showing support and furnishing auction items for the silent and live auctions. Other honorary committee members include Gary Player, professional golfer, Ty Murray, nine-time World Champion Bull Rider and seven time World Champion All Around Cowboy, Mari Hulman George, chairman of the board of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Dan Issel, Hall of Fame professional basketball player, John Ortiz, actor, Richard Papiese, owner of Midwest Thoroughbreds, Keith Hernandez, Major League baseball player and Thoroughbred Trainer Dale Romans.
Tickets to the event will be available soon and may be reserved by calling (317) 421-0000 during business hours at Indiana Grand Racing & Casino. The cost is $50, which will include food, beverage and exclusive access to the event.
More information about the second annual “Jockeys and Jeans” event may be found on Indiana Grand's website at www.indianagrand.com or through the official “Jockeys and Jeans” Facebook page.
The “Jockeys and Jeans” committee, which consists of five former jockeys, was formed in 2014 with a mission to increase awareness and raise funding for PDJF. The inaugural event raised more than $22,000 and was held at Tampa Bay Downs. More information about the committee and the event may be found on their Website at www.jockeysandjeans.com.
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