by | 11.17.2010 | 12:47am
By Ray Paulick
Some people think I'd do just about anything to not get on an airplane. One of those folks is Brad Cummings, my partner in the Paulick Report. A couple of weeks ago, knowing that I've had  my fill of bad experiences with commercial airlines, he asked if I'd be driving out to the Breeders' Cup from my home in Lexington, Ky., to Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif.

“Are you nuts?” I asked. I told Brad I was in the process of booking a flight but then, for some reason, said, “Why don't you drive out there with me.” We had just been discussing our disappointment in not being able to get a group of people together from Central Kentucky to fill a chartered bus and attend a Chicago-area fundraiser Oct. 25 for apprentice jockey Michael Straight, who was seriously injured in a riding mishap at Arlington Park this summer. Brad had really been hoping to show that people in Kentucky had the young jockey in their thoughts and prayers, but understood that giving up a Sunday and Monday to attend the event was a tall order for many folks.

“Maybe we can put together our own fundraiser,” I told Brad, stopping at tracks along the way, and somehow raising awareness and money for not just Michael Straight but for all the injured riders who depend on the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund. It's an organization that provides sorely needed financial assistance to more than 60 jockeys who have suffered some form of paralysis, head trauma or other debilitating injury.

From that lunchtime meeting in Lexington came the idea for BREEDERS' CUP OR BUST: A FUNDRAISING ‘DRIVE' that gets under way at Keeneland this Wednesday (Oct. 28), continues at Hawthorne in Chicago on Thursday (Oct. 29), Remington Park in Oklahoma City on Sunday (Nov. 1), Zia Park in Hobbs, N.M., next Monday (Nov. 2)  and Turf Paradise in Phoenix, Ariz., next Tuesday (Nov. 3). We'll stop at a Las Vegas racebook next Wednesday (Nov. 4) and then arrive at Santa Anita Park on the eve of the Breeders' Cup.

Click here to read the full details about the BREEDERS' CUP OR BUST FUNDRAISING ‘DRIVE'.

We made a few phone calls after our initial discussion, including one to someone at the Breeders' Cup to see if the organization was interested in partnering with us on this crazy idea. To my astonishment, they were immediately supportive. So was TVG, the racing network and account wagering company, which will help promote this fundraising effort on both their telecasts and online through the TVG community as our exclusive media partner.

Breeders' Cup Charities officials suggested we branch out and consider a second charity to benefit from this drive, specifically The V Foundation for Cancer Research, founded by ESPN and the late North Carolina State basketball coach and television commentator Jim Valvano. Coach V, who died from brain cancer in 2003, gave the foundation its motto, “Don't give up…Don't ever give up,” during an unforgettable speech at the inaugural ESPY awards when he received the Arthur Ashe Courage & Humanitarian Award, just eight weeks before his death.

We've all lost friends or loved ones to this disease, and the absence of stricken Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel from this year's Breeders' Cup will serve as a sad reminder of how devastating cancer can be. The V Foundation has funded vital research into unraveling the mysteries of cancer over the past 15 years. It ranks among the top 2% of all charities ranked by the independent organization, Charity Navigator, for maintaining extremely low administration and fundraising expenses.

While these two organizations deal with serious medical issues, we plan to have some fun while raising money on behalf of Breeders' Cup Charities and the two organizations.  We'll be raising awareness for them, too, chronicling each stop on the zig-zagging, 2,835-mile road trip with live blogs detailing our experiences.

We hope you'll stop by the Paulick Report, beginning Wednesday when BREEDERS' CUP OR BUST starts at Keeneland, where the jockey colony will be autographing Breeders' Cup caps and I'll be participating in a one-on-one handicapping challenge with local radio personality Tom Leach, the voice of the Kentucky Wildcats. Breeders' Cup is staking us to a bankroll that we hope to increase throughout the trip with help from the TVG community and handicappers and horseplayers at each track.

Other promotions along the way include a race pitting the two traveling partners of the Paulick Report against members of the Remington Park jockey colony riding big, bouncing rubber balls. I think I'm at least 50-1 to win that contest.

You'll have an opportunity to support the ‘drive,' too, by pledging a specific amount per mile at the Breeders' Cup Charities secured web site and making a tax-deductible online donation. Please click here to donate now.

In addition, for each of the six segments of the drive, we are soliciting individuals, businesses or charitable foundations as sponsors willing to donate a minimum of $2,000 to the charities. Please email us at  
[email protected] if you are interested in sponsoring a segment, which will be acknowledged throughout the trip in our daily blogs.

It's been less than 18 months since the Paulick Report launched as an independent source of news and commentary for the Thoroughbred industry. As many of you know, in our early days we were sustained by the support of readers like you who contributed during National Public Radio-style fundraising drives. Since then, we've been blessed with overwhelming growth in both readership and advertising support from businesses throughout the racing and breeding communities.

Because of that support, we feel privileged to be able to put our energies toward something that truly is a worthy cause. We are asking you to give again. Please join us in supporting Breeders' Cup Charities to benefit the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund and The V Foundation for Cancer Research.

Copyright © 2009, The Paulick Report

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  • D. Masters

    Best of luck and Happy Trails, Ray, Brad and traveling partners. The trip sounds like a ton of fun and discovery. $2000 is too steep for me, but if you want some lunch money, I’d be happy to donate (the link is where again?). It would be great to get live updates while you are on the road….wish I could be there with ya’.

  • brad

    The link is in the story above but I have also put it in the bottom of this comment. $2,000 isn’t for everyone, but imagine if everyone who reads the Paulick Report at least gave a penny a mile. We would be able to significantly change the bottom line of these charities.

    And to be perfectly clear, all money raised will be given to the PDJF and The V Foundation. No one will be donating to our lunch fund, gas money or Ray’s love for the Wheel of Fortune slot machine!

    Stay tuned for our live diary starting Wednesday.

  • brad

    One more thing, everyone donating at least a penny a mile will be entered in a drawing for one of five BC hats signed by all of the winning jockeys for the 14 BC races. The language promoting this will be added to the Breeders’ Cup donor page shortly.

  • Ray and Brad,

    What a fantastic idea! You’re going to have a tremendous time while doing some great work for these charities. It will repay you for every mile you drive.

    All the best,

  • D. Masters


    Thanks for the reply. Unfortunately, the little paddlock security icon doesn’t show up when I went to the Breeder’s Cup or Bust link. Toooo much personal info to provide without the security/VeriSign icons. However, I just wrote a check (and the reference to “I’ll buy you lunch” was just a joke) and it’s in the mail to the KY address.

    I hope you and Ray take the time to visit Hollywood Park. I understand there are lots of trainers still using the Park and it would be a shame if you miss covering the spot that is so soon to be plowed under. What a beautiful place (the Park, not Inglewood…the jet noise sucks)….just a ton of history…Landaluce, Native Diver, et al.

    Hope you gather tons of cash for the jocks and cancer.

  • TripCrown73


    Great idea! Being a Secretariat fan I always give to the PDJF to help jocks like Ronnie that need assistance …. so I can always squeeze a bit more out of my budget to help more.

    FYI – the contribution page won’t let you put in the $0.01 contribution level…keeps telling you that you have to select a contribution level even though it is showing a total donation of $28.53 and the amount had been manually re-entered from the pre-existing amount already showing of the $0.01 contribution.

  • Joe

    Sweet idea Ray & Brad, but…

    Will a single penny go toward the horses that are the foundation of racing and are sacrificed each and every day for the industry? They tend to fall through the cracks at every turn and get fundraising crumbs, if anything.

    A fan base would be so much easier to build if society was re-assured that horse welfare matters as well.

    Thank you in advance for at least considering the inclusion of race horses in your exciting fundraiser.

  • Panty Raid

    I find it amazing that with such a positive opportunity laid out by the Paulick Report, anyone could find a negative. Are there any horse orgs being helped? It appears not. But the jockeys are important too. Why would anyone choose to pick at this? Who else in the publishing industry is doing anything like it?

    That being said, hopefully this will be successful enough so that another fudnraiser can be put together for the horsies. I would like to see that.

  • blacktieaffair

    Ray and Brad —

    What a cool idea and a great way for the Paulick Report to raise both money and awareness for these great causes. Maybe some of the regular curmudgeons from your commentariat will contribute? Looking forward to your updates from the trip.

    Count me in.


  • Erin

    I don’t know if Joe is Joe from TB Friends, but if it is, he certainly has walked the walk and has every right to make the commentary he has made.

    Even if he’s not, well, horses can’t talk can they? Someone has to.

  • California Breeder

    Don’t let any negative comments get you down fellas. Some people like Joe find fault in anything and this business is full of that kind. We need some good news out here in California and if you guys can raise cash for these charities that might help us forget aboutt all the problems we got even for just a few minutes.

    Good luck and drive safely.

  • Noelle

    Panty Raid – I might agree with you except that the BC tacked on the The V Foundation for Cancer Research as a co-recipient of the take.

    Cancer research is a worthy cause, of course. Americans have poured zillions of charitable dollars into cancer research and will continue doing so, with or without this particular affiliation.

    How much more appropriate if the BC had suggested coupling the Disabled Jockeys Fund with a charity that provides directly for the industry’s castoffs – whose numbers are likely to increase in the current economic downturn – and how typical that it didn’t occur to them.

  • If you want to give to a horse charity, then by all means do so. There are plenty out there. If you want to support the organizations Ray and Brad will support, then give to them.

    Coming on here to complain about where the money goes is really poor form.

  • Joe

    Actually… The 2009 BC has included TCA as its 3rd charity this year, following the V Foundation for Cancer Research and the USO. It’s excellent that the “industry’s castoffs” are included this year.

    The TCA supports:
    Thoroughbred rescue, rehabilitation, retraining, adoption, retirement and euthanasia; Backstretch workers including disabled jockeys, farm and track employees with little or no medical coverage and child care for them while working; Equine educational organizations including those who provide equine-based scholarships and those who utilize Thoroughbreds in their educational programs; Therapeutic riding programs which include the use of Thoroughbreds in their programs; Research into equine diseases and ailments.

  • Mary

    You’re in for a memorable trip. My son & I took a similar route last year (but started in Chicago). Not for such worthy causes, but as a farewell trip because he was going away to college soon after. We had the time of our lives, enjoyed beautiful scenery and met great folks along the way. He’s living near Remington Park now, I’m sure he’ll come out to see your bouncing rubber balls race!

    Anyway, I’ll be donating before week’s end. Have a fun & safe trip.

  • Erin

    Social media. Comments enables. Discussion. This is the place for such a sentiment, and any others that are ‘on topic,’ as one says in social media. Shame on you for disparaging opinions you don’t agree with.

  • Lynn from USA

    Well – not to worry about the horse charities. Most of them are running out of money anyways, and the people that volunteer for them are almost too discouraged to continue.

  • Don Reed

    RayBrad: I’m in!

    My better half’s judicial ruling, this evening: “It’s coming out of the Breeders’ Cup money budgeted for betting.” She’ll be wiring the money tomorrow (and thank you for your Oct. 13th message that you were undertaking this adventure).

    We ourselves had driven to Lexington Oct. 7th-8th for Keeneland’s opening weekend (Oct. 9-11), & then drove back Oct. 12-13th – in all, @ 1600 miles.

    The distance travelled was well worth it, & especially notable for what follows. May you encounter a prescient local handicapper at Turf Paradise who will do the same!




    The longshot rampage that started on Friday (Opening Day) continued, but our longshots were the slowpokes. The money pit was winning the battle. Then, on Sunday, luck struck.

    A local stable hand graciously gave me a tip while we were watching horses getting saddled in the paddock before the 2nd race. Fortunately, he knew what he was talking about – but not even he would have been able to predict that Mushka would win in the way she did.


    We had finished chatting & he turned & walked away. A minute later, he was back. It wasn’t a conspirator’s whisper of a voice that he used, but this wasn’t a matter to be broadcast on TVG, either.

    This was an extraordinarily unprompted revelation, conducted with the same casual pace that one would see if a neighbor, on his way to work in the morning, had gotten ten steps out the front door & then had returned to the house to retrieve an umbrella.

    The race went off & Mushka, in the 11 gate, got off to an anticipated slow start. Kent Desormeaux finally guided her to the rail, where on the first turn, she trailed all but one of the other ten horses in the field.

    I had had my doubts @ Kent; it looked like he was still in a slump. Off to a rough start on Opening Day, he finally won a race, the nightcap; but by then, the cold weather proved to be too much, & we had left. His racing luck on the following day was even worse.

    Maybe I should have been more motivated, on Sunday, after he finally reversed the trend on Interactif, in the race prior to his mount on Mushka. But getting involved in a kamikaze, last-day-go-for-broke bet was a juvenile thrill that, seldom rewarded, had long ago lost its appeal. The amount bet hours earlier, for better or for worse, was going to remain as is.

    Mushka continued to trail on the backstretch. Then he gathered speed on the far turn, & that he was a closer was becoming obvious.

    Then, neither one of us then could understand or see a reason why Mushka – now in the stretch & gaining on Proviso (GB) – had suddenly bolted to her right, insuring that she’d finish 2nd to Proviso.

    “INQUIRY” shot up on the tote board, a second later. THAT was fast. Something quite obvious to most but not to us must have happened, & this had potential. They sure weren’t going to DQ Mushka.

    I walked over to the other end of the building to stand on a terrace. Already there was a veteran bettor, & it was his reasonable opinion that Proviso was coming down. What Elena & I hadn’t seen was that Proviso had been the first to bolt to his right – forcing Mushka, directly behind her, to veer.

    I wasn’t jumping into an empty swimming pool despite the regard I had for this guy’s opinion. “This is a Grade One race. The stewards are going to think long & hard before they disqualify a horse at this level of racing.” To this, he agreed.

    I didn’t have to mention that these things aren’t automatic. In a race up at Saratoga only @ four weeks earlier (on the day that Rachel Alexandra had won the Woodward), Callide Valley had committed the exact same foul in the stretch against Captain Stone.

    An inquiry must precede a disqualification – and neither event, inexplicably, had occurred. My Captain Stone win ticket (at 39-1) is now a souvenir, among others, in the racing shoe box.

    So we watched the multiple replays of the finish on the large-screen atop of the entrance gate, & Proviso had absolutely no defense. He committed the foul. And we waited.

    And then Mushka was declared the winner. This was going to make the 800-mile drive home, thru West Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania, a whole lot easier.

  • Bob Baedeker


    Congratulations on getting the trip together. I’m pleased that TVG is lending its support to this worthy cause. I look forward to tracking your trip on the “Morning Line” show in the coming days. Good luck to you and Brad.

    Bob Baedeker, TVG

  • Ray Paulick

    Mr. B-

    Great to hear from you. Your colleagues at TVG have been really great to work with on this.

    See you on the road!


  • Don Reed

    D’OH! Some Keeneland auctioneer/breeder/reporter I’d make.

    The pronoun & adjective used when referring to Mushka & Proviso above, of course, should be “she” & “her.”

    For “Mushka,” I – like Proviso – have no defense.

    As for the owners who saddle their fillies with names that end in unfeminine vowels – “Provis – O” – an apology does not appear to be necessary, but is still offered.

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