Here is a great article written by the Reverend Eddie Donnally, Jockeys and Jeans Vice President, Director Stallion Season Sales.
As an x-jockey from the days gone by, I can never remember when there was not a Massage Therapist in the Jock's room. These talented and great folks got many a Race Rider back in shape to go out and do their job. Barry
It’s time to raise the bar, by Julie Ramgeet, Horse Racing Today
Jockey’s..the most underrated, athletically diverse, accessible, sports athletes in the professional sports industry, and yet they still are struggling to be noticed and treated as such. The public sees the highlights, the glorified wins with usually a very small percentage of the actual jocks colony in America, being the top 5% riders who usually get the most attention. Not to take away from them, their accomplishments deserve the attention but more importantly than the praise, statistics online, and ITM percentages, something is lacking big time for these professional athletes and that is the basic standard of athletic necessity, that is not withheld across the board at all racetracks. Do you know what the NFL does for the players inside the locker room? Even with halftime only being about 7 minutes of downtime they are treated as athletes, not just someone putting on entertainment, and then when stepping into their private locker room goes forgotten about. Bathroom breaks, of course, but also proper hydration being provided, stretching, medicine as Motrin provided by medical staff if needed, and staff making sure the players feel strong and ready to go back out and finish the rest of the game. Why do these athletes and many more, NBA, MLB, Olympic teams, Golfers, etc get the basic care availability needed to perform at their best but our jockeys who ride horses 40mph, providing the thrill that comes with racing, along with the betting aspect that comes with the sport for the public, making money for the racetracks, by bringing in a handle and spectators, not deserve the same basic care? Some would say the salaries of those NFL etc. players make the difference but then the point of the average handle generated across the United States, brought in by horse racing and simulcasting alone certainly holds weight in comparison. Is it lack of funding causing the lack of both mental and physical support our jockey colonies need, or is it simply a lack of awareness, that jockeys are far more than what you see televised once or twice on TV during yearly feature events?
Let's start by bringing to light the daily struggles so many riders face that the public or even fans are not aware of. Mornings start before the sun comes up, most jockeys are at the track waiting to work while the rest of America is just getting out of bed, they work in the mornings, hoping to get the mounts to be competitive at the call to post. Some struggle with weight to maintain, a lot of them are away from their families and know no one, many relying on a weekly paycheck in hopes they are going to get that one special horse to take them up the ladder of the colony ranks to be noticed enough to get to a comfortable place to really be able to support their families and themselves. A few hours off in between morning work and the race day card, then if they have mounts, reset their minds and pray for safety and success as they put their helmets on and head out to race. Easy right? Throw on some flashy silks, shiny boots, and a bright helmet, and get paid to ride horses. Some would say that sounds like fun, they don’t realize the pressure that a jockey gets in just one race, let alone a full-time career. Is the saddle on the right? Are girths tight? Do I need to pull braids out of the mane so I have something to grab? Is this horse sound? Feeling good under me? The trainer told me what to do. I hope the race plays out the right way. Don’t drop your stick, keep your horse in a straight path, ride to win, oh yeah, and don’t forget to breathe. Didn’t win? Now they are faced with bringing their horses back with the potential to get harassed about their riding style or possibly not following directions all with the one fact forgotten usually, those who can tell a rider what they have done wrong often in a loss, usually have never ridden horses. Not to mention the influx of harassment jockeys now have to deal with off of the track, the great worldwide wide. Jockeys, most of all that I have spoken to, have received threatening messages via social media. Nasty, hateful, just downright mean messages. Not thinking when pressing the send button, what is this person on the other end going through in their life. It's not as simple as some make it seem and the riders, win or lose don’t get half the credit or attention they deserve as human beings let alone professional athletes, perhaps it's time we level up our way of doing things, with that brings change, is that too much to ask for or is it something that is long overdue?
Proper weight loss and exercise equipment, i.e. saunas, whirlpools, treadmills, bikes, kitchen accessibility, on-site doctors, and physical therapists/masseuses, are just some of the available things in some of the jock's rooms across the country. Did you read that right? Some. Why are physical needs only being met in some of the rooms and not across the board in every jock's room in the United States? Again, the argument of money will come into play, as purse comparison, location, and more, all of that should be categorized as excuses at this point when we are talking about the needs of, yes, professional athletes. If their physical needs and accessibility to proper equipment are to no avail, with the mental pressures already being a daily struggle, that's when we get into dark waters with mental health coming into the forefront, adding unnecessary pressures to the riders of how well they manage weight and or physical fitness, when this could easily be provided by every single racetrack across the board.
That’s right, mental health. Something so commonly ignored in America and hardly ever spoken of on the backsides. We are all far past the time of breaking the stigma of being afraid to speak out but yet so many of our own are still afraid to speak up! You can’t love horseracing and not love the jockeys, who help make some of the most memorable moments even more special. Creating a place for them all when they step inside their jockey room to go ride that gives them a sense of security, comfort, and safety should be of the utmost importance. Educating riders on proper nutrition, opening kitchens in the rooms with chefs who serve healthy, energizing meals to keep them properly nutritionally sustained, while being able to maintain their riding weight. Can you imagine the unloaded pressure that would dissolve from a rider who may be struggling with food, perhaps looking to lose weight in unhealthy ways, being presented with the opportunity to go to work, eat properly, not have to starve, and feel strong when they go to post?! We are talking about one thing here that makes that available, a chef/nutritionist in each jockey room.
While I do believe riders always have medics available during racing and training hours for emergency services, let's raise that bar and include an onsite medic/doctor who is also a qualified mental health therapist. Giving all of them the availability of talking to someone, because again, a lot of these jockeys do not have family here in the states, could make all the difference in not only their mental health but their success as well. We expect them to go out and perform back-to-back at a top-tier level but then do the bare minimum when it comes to supporting them. There is no reason why a rider should have these things in hand reach when racing in one state and then going to ride at a new track perhaps for just a day, or to relocate, and not having the exact same care and availability they once did. Aren’t they just as important and valuable to our racing community in one town as they are in another? Could a uniform system of physical and mental health be put in place at each and every racetrack to help better support our athletes? Could racetracks become somewhat of a safe place for any jockey or horseman struggling with mental health? Supporting the fact that it's ok to be kind, check on each other, and talk to someone if you're having an “off” day?! What negative impact, if these things were in fact put into place could come? I see none.
Horse Racing Today
Tony Black to become latest Jockeys and Jeans Ambassador
Tony Black is an interesting guy who I happen to know for over 40 years. Tony and I rode together back in the 70’s and this I can say: Tony was a very good rider with over 5,200 wins. Now that is saying something. Tony has always been an advocate for the jockey community and has fought for jockeys throughout his career. We are proud to announce that the committee of Jockey and Jeans has awarded Tony the position of Jockeys and Jeans Ambassador. Tony joins such notable personalities as Laffit Pincay, Jr., Chris McCarron, Pat Day, Manny Ycaza, Mike Smith and other Hall of Fame Jockeys. Tony will be helping us with our event at Parx on June 4 and representing us in the Philadelphia-Delaware-Maryland areas. So from all of us at Jockeys and Jeans, welcome aboard Tony.
Randy Romero: His Race for Life Going Down to the Wire
Just spoke with Randy Romero and he has been in Ochsner Hospital in New Orleans for over a week. He has pneumonia, something those without a spleen are very susceptible to, an inflamed gall bladder and is being fed through a tube. Always an optimistic, he says he will be released when he can keep down solid foods. Good news is that he says doctors still think he is strong enough for the some 10 hour surgery needed to replace his kidney and liver, something he likely needs to save his life. He says that he is now at the top of the list.
His is indeed a race for life. Please join me in in prayer that he will win this battle. The Hall of Famer is only 58
Read my article on him "Race for Life"
Named Jockeys and Jeans Ambassador
The committee of Jockeys and Jeans are proud to announce our latest addition to our coveted Jockeys and Jeans Ambassadors. Kaoru Chatfield-Tsuchiya Is probably one of most active promoters of Jockeys and Jeans and is always willing to step up and help wherever she is needed. Kaoru was the first female Jockey to be accepted in the coveted Jockeys School in Japan and had sucsess at major Racetrack in Japan and the United States. Kaoru came to the United States with a determination to succeed and had a very successful career. Kaoru rode mostly around the Kentucky circuit and was known for her tenacity and never give up attitude. When people talk about who’s who around Lexington, Kaoru’s name always comes up. Kaoru is probably one of the most well-liked and respected people that has stepped on the hallowed grounds of Keeneland. The committee of Jockeys and Jeans is honored that Kaoru Chatfield-Tsuchiya will be our latest Jockeys and Jeans Ambassadors and join the likes of Lafitt Pincay, Jr., Mike Smith, Chris McCarron, Jorge Velasquez, Manual Ycaza, Ron Turcotte, Ted Leggett and Arnold Iliescu. Kaoru, Welcome aboard.
Sandy Hawley Named Jockeys and Jeans Jockey Liaison - Committee Member
The committee of Jockey and Jeans are proud to announce that Hall of Fame Jockey Sandy Hawley has accepted our invitation to join our committee in the roll of Jockey Liaison and Coordinator. Sandy will take over for Hall of Famer Walter Blum who because of time constraints will assume the role of Committee Member Emeritus. The committee would like to thank Walter for his dedication and hard work and we look forward to his expert advice.
Sandy had a reputation for being one of the nicest and hardest-working riders in the game. His nickname was Gentleman Sandy and I don’t think there is a person in racing who has ever said a bad word about Sandy.
Sandy is a living legend in Canada and works part time for Woodbine Race Track a place Jockeys and Jeans would like to hold our event in the future. We at Jockeys and Jeans feel the addition of Sandy to our team is one more step in making our event the premier charity event in racing. Here is a brief outline on Sandy Hawley’s amazing career.
Sandy Hawley was born on April 16, 1949 in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada. He took an unusual path to the track, spending time as a plumber before he became a jockey.
Hawley rode his first winner aboard Fly Alone on Oct. 14, 1968 at Woodbine. The following year, he was North America’s leading apprentice. He quickly found success and led all North American jockeys in wins in 1970, 1972, 1973 and 1976. In 1973, he became the first to ride 500 winners in a year.
In 1976, Hawley won the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey, as well as the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award. He won the Lou Marsh Trophy in 1973 and 1976, which is given annually to Canada’s top athlete.
Hawley won numerous major races during his career, including the Queen’s Plate (4), Alabama, Prince of Wales Stakes (2), Breeders’ Stakes (4), Canadian Oaks (8), Coronation Futurity (5), Whitney Handicap, D.C. International (2), Canadian International (2), Man o’ War, Secretariat, Vanity, Hollywood Oaks, Strub, Hollywood Gold Cup, Hollywood Futurity, Bing Crosby Handicap (2), Spinster Stakes, Ashland Stakes and Jamaica Handicap.
At Woodbine, Hawley once rode seven winners on a single card and he had two six-win days at Santa Anita.
Hawley was the leading rider in Canada nine times and was inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 1986 and the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame in 1998. He won 18 riding titles at Woodbine, 13 at Fort Erie and nine each at Greenwood and Ontario.
Hawley retired in 1998 with 6,450 wins from 31,456 mounts. He won on 21 percent of his mounts and had purse earnings of $88,666,071.
Sandy Hawley was inducted into the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame in 1992.
Jockeys and Jeans Traveled to Keeneland Sales September 12th, 2016
I just returned from the Keeneland Yearling sales where Revered Eddie and I spent the last few days visiting with past Stallion Season donators and meeting new folks who showed great interest in helping us out for our next Auction. I am absolutely blown away by the generosity and support shown to Jockeys and Jeans by the farms and people that participated in the the sale. Some farms were selling agents for other people and did not have a stallion season to offer but they quickly stepped up to the plate and offered to purchase one of our Sponsorships. One wonderful couple Mr. and Mrs. T. Wayne Sweezey of Timber Town Stables offer to write me a check for a sponsorship as soon as I send him an invoice. Now that is Kentucky Generosity.
I also had the distinct pleasure to meet Mr. Bill Thomason of Keeneland who is a great guy and told me he has watching Jockeys and Jeans and he was very impressed by what we have accomplished. As you can imagine I was grinning from ear to ear. Thank you Mr. Thomason for the opportunity to tell our story.
Our good friend Pat Day came out to visit with us and needless to say Pat was a big hit and helped us meet new people who loved what we are doing. Thank you Pat your a home run guy! I also need to thank Kaoru Chatfield-Tsuchiya who hosted Eddie and myself. There is no one who is more cordial, caring and hospitable then Kaoru. This I can say, as long as Eddie and I are involved with Jockeys and Jeans Kaoru will always be a part of what we do. I also must thank Suzie Picou Oldham and her husband Johnny who did a wonderful job introducing us to prospective donors and basically putting up with us for almost a week. Suzie is loved by all and is a true legend around Keeneland.
So, here is the bottom line. I feel in love with Keeneland, not only for it's beauty, it's mystique and attention to detail which in this day and age is truly astonishing but also its purity and true love of the horse and sport. Thank you Keeneland for letting me remember what racing is supposed to be.
Jockeys and Jeans will be at the Keeneland Sale September 12th - 16th
Reverend Eddie and I will be traveling to the Keeneland Sales starting September 12th to meet with breeders and promote our Stallion Season donations. If you plan to be there please let us know as we would love to say hello.