SHAKOPEE, MN – Jockey and horse almost move as one around the racetrack. The horse’s trust in the athlete holding the reins is absolute and, in turn, the rider on his back strives to guide the pair to the finish line swiftly and safely, an implied contract between the two to take care of each other out there.
The journey is not without peril and is not always safe.
Canterbury Park has a fee per starter that is donated at the end of the year for equine retirement programs in order to help provide a soft landing for the equine athletes that thrill fans daily, but Sunday was all about the other part of the tandem.
The Leg Up Fund was established at Canterbury in 2014 to help provide support for jockeys that are injured while riding at Canterbury. As independent contractors, if the jockey doesn’t ride, the jockey doesn’t get paid. Should there be a debilitating injury that requires months of rehabilitation, bills pile up, families are stressed and relationships are strained. The Leg Up Fund helps to alleviate some of that worry by providing a stipend for the jockey to help defray some of those expenses and relieving some of that stress.
Sunday was the annual Leg Up Fund Day, the primary day of fund raising for the Fund. Patrons could sponsor jockeys for the day, donate a lump sum amount, participate in a raffle, buy items from a silent auction and live auction as well as tie-dyed t-shirts, bandanas and headbands hand made by Kaleigh and Kendall Butler, daughters of jockey Dean Butler and LeAnn Rhone.
Most of 2016 was spent getting the funds 501(c)3 status granted by the Internal Revenue Service and there was some trepidation that the Committee was stretched a little thin heading into the 2017 Fund Day.
“When you’re dealing with the Federal government and all the regulations,” said Fund Chair Willa Dailey, “It takes a lot of time and energy from a lot of people, but it is very important for the long term future of the Leg Up Fund. Once that was granted in March we then needed to get our gaming license so we could conduct raffles – just so many little things we had to get done in a short amount of time.”
“All the volunteers were tremendous,” said Dailey. “And Jeff Maday [Canterbury Media Relations Manager] really took the reins of the marketing effort with the track and just did a tremendous job.”
“It was a fantastic day,” said committee member and Minnesota Thoroughbred Association Executive Director Kay King. “We had people from all over, with different backgrounds and varying levels of involvement all coming together to do good for a great cause.”
“Last year was tough,” she Dailey continued. “We had six jockey claims in 2016 – one long term – and we nearly depleted the fund before we really got started. My goal is to get the fund built up to a degree where we can increase the benefits for each claimant.”
Contributions can be made to the Fund year round and you can even peg the Fund to receive a donation when you shop at Amazon.com through their “smile” program.
SILENT AUCTION ITEM STOLEN
In the singular down note to the day’s proceedings, one of the silent auction items, a Minnesota Vikings helmet signed by for Viking (and Packer!) Greg Jennings was stolen from the silent auction table. When the auction was concluded, two young – and very excited – Vikings fans and their parents came to collect their item and it was gone. The family was offered a refund of their winning bid but insisted that it be retained by the Fund. People with that kind of heart and compassion for others deserve to have their item returned to them.
If anyone has any information on the theft of this item, please contact Kay King at Kay@minnesotabred.com or (952) 233-4802.
EDITOR’S NOTE: If anyone is in possession of the item and wishes to return it anonymously, please contact us at Ted@grevelisracing and we can make arrangements to collect it from you, no questions asked. We just want the item back to the high bidders/true owners.