Autograph books aid permanently disabled jockeys | News
SARATOGA SPRINGS - The men and women who ride the horses are the stars of the show at Saratoga Race Course.
But what happens when because of injury, they can't ride any longer?
Defending Saratoga riding champ John Velazquez knows how a fall can end a career in the blink of an eye. He was fortunate to return from a spill in June at Churchill Downs. Others are less fortunate. They're often disabled and destitute.
"These are people who were hurt on the race track. They don't have any health insurance, don't have any income coming in," said Velazquez. "As everybody knows, jockeys, once you get hurt, we don't have contracts."
So there's been a strong push in recent years to help take care of those who can no longer care for themselves. A group called the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund is always looking for ways to raise money to pay for things like wheelchairs and healthcare.
Which brings us to autographs and books. The fund has made the autograph books available at 30 Saratoga-area stores.
"Absolutely. It's a good idea.Any way you can incorporate the jockeys and the track with downtown, it's always a good idea," Tina Mendez of G.Williker's toy store on Broadway.
A fan makes the donation of their choice and brings the book to the track to get the jockeys' signatures.
Six-year-olds Hugh and Stu like the idea and so do the jockeys who are usually happen to sign the books.
"It's a great opportunity for the fans and the kids and jockeys to raise funds for permanently disabled riders," said Velazquez.
Velazquez will be among the jockeys signing autographs Thursday mornings during breakfast on the track's Clubhouse Porch.