Five Derby Riders Pledge Percentage Of Earnings To Help Injured Jock Bednar

Hall of Fame jockeys Javier Castellano, Mike Smith, John Velazquez, and the sport’s rising stars Manuel Franco and Tyler Gaffalione have joined in solidarity to pledge a percentage of their earnings from the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby race cards to help rider Vinnie Bednar with continued expenses resulting from a catastrophic fall at Los Alamitos Racetrack on August 22nd.

Bednar, 28, is experiencing what his family hopes is a temporary lower-limb paralysis following initial surgery at USC Medical Center in Los Angeles.  He remains hospitalized while awaiting transfer to the Craig Hospital in Englewood, Colorado, a world-renowned, premier center for spinal and brain injury. The accident occurred in the seventh race when Peek It Up, the horse Bednar was riding, broke down 100 yards from the finish line in the 300-yard race.

“Vinnie was overcome with emotion when I told him that some of the country’s top jockeys had reached out and wanted to help. He couldn’t believe that they were thinking about him while they are amid their big race weekend at Churchill Downs,” said Karen Bednar, Vinnie’s mother.

“The support our family has received is unbelievable and it’s been so inspiring to Vinnie. He wants to use the attention and the generosity to help other paralyzed jockeys who don’t have the exposure and need help,” Bednar continued.

Castellano who is third on the all-time North American earnings leaderboard will be aboard Money Moves for seven-time Eclipse Award winning trainer Todd Pletcher in the 146th running of the Derby today. Franco will ride the heavy favorite and sole Triple Crown contender Tiz the Law who won the Belmont Stakes and the Travers Stakes for trainer Barclay Tagg. Tyler Gaffalione who is third in earnings on the North American Leaderboard will have the mount on South Bend for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott.  Mike Smith, who piloted Justify to a Triple Crown title in 2018 will be in the irons for trainer John Sherriffs on Honor A.P. who is the morning line second favorite in the race. Velazquez will ride Authentic for two-time Triple Crown winner Bob Baffert who is the third favorite in the year’s 146th edition of the Run for the Roses.

“This could have been any one of us,” said North America’s all-time leading money earner Velazquez.  “The injuries Vinnie sustained are going to require a tremendous amount of financial support for his medical bills and rehabilitation. We will be riding with Vinnie and his family in our thoughts and prayers today.”

Fellow Hall of Famer Mike Smith echoed the sentiment, adding, “I know Vinnie well. He’s a great young rider and an even better person. He has a wonderful family and we will all help him get through this.”

Vinnie Bednar is a former motocross rider who began riding thoroughbred and quarter horses in 2011.  He has enjoyed a successful career and at the time of his last race ranked second in the jockey standings at Los Alamitos. Since mid-December, Bednar has won four major stakes – the Champion of Champions last December with 2019 World Champion He Looks Hot, the Vessels Maturity on Chocolatito on July 5, the Governor’s Cup Derby with Nomadic on July 26, and the Golden State Derby on Aug. 16 aboard Circle City.  This season Bednar had 41 Quarter Horse victories from 201 starts with earnings of $635,959 and is ranked 23rd in the country. He also rode Thoroughbreds this year, garnering 18 wins from 94 mounts.

Close friends of the Bednar family have created a GoFundMe campaign for continued medical support: https://gf.me/u/yvsusr

The post Five Derby Riders Pledge Percentage Of Earnings To Help Injured Jock Bednar appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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