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Updated on 09/17/2011 11:46AM
A day of bets, autographs, and an auction
GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - Russell Baze, a career winner of more than 8,200 races, has been installed the 4-1 morning line favorite to win the National Thoroughbred Racing Association All-Star Jockey Championship on Friday night at Lone Star Park.
Ryan Fogelsonger is the 9-2 second choice in the field of 12 riders, who will earn points for their finishes in four Championship races. At the conclusion of the races, one rider will be crowned the winner of the Jockey Championship.
Patrons can make win, place, show, exacta and trifecta bets on the riders. The betting will close at zero minutes to post for the fourth race, which is the first of the four races that make up the Jockey Championship.
Through the years, the All-Star payoffs have been generous. Last year, Chris McCarron won the competition and a $2 win ticket on him paid $10.80. McCarron topped a $119.40 exacta with runner-up Edgar Prado, and a $1,509.60 trifecta with third-place finisher Mike Smith.
The best return on a $2 win bet in the five years of All-Star Wager betting was in 1999 when Lafitt Pincay Jr. paid $20.40.
Handle on the All-Star Wager has been steady each year, averaging $110,665.
A crowd for 15-1 shot Santos?
Jose Santos, whose visibility has reached new heights due to his victories in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness this spring with Funny Cide, could have the most sought after autograph during a pre-race signing session from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Central.
The 12 competing jockeys will be split into groups of four to sign autographs. The cost for signatures from each group is $5, with proceeds to go toward the Disabled Jockeys' Endowment.
Santos is not the only rider coming into the Jockey Championship hot. Mike Smith is the regular rider on reigning Horse of the Year Azeri, who will shoot for her 10th straight win Saturday in the Grade 1 Vanity, while Richard Migliore, making his first appearance in the Jockey Championship, won two stakes last weekend at Belmont Park, including the Grade 2 Brooklyn with Iron Deputy.
Pat Valenzuela, also riding in his first Jockey Championship, won nine races last weekend at Hollywood Park, and at Bay Meadows Russell Baze gained his 29th meet riding title.
Edgar Prado might be sitting on a big weekend, too. A day after the Jockey Championship, he will ride Take Charge Lady in the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps at Belmont.
'Seabiscuit' tickets top auction Friday
Event organizers have come up with some hot auction items for the annual Friday afternoon luncheon that precedes the Jockey Championship. Proceeds benefit the Disabled Jockeys' Endowment.
Pincay, the all-time leading rider in wins, who retired in March, will be honored at the auction, which begins at 11:30 a.m. on the fourth level of the grandstand. Tickets are $25.
Among the items to be auctioned are two tickets to the world premiere of the movie "Seabiscuit" at Universal Studios in Hollywood, Calif., and the first two tickets offered to the 2004 Breeders' Cup, to be held at Lone Star.
Also on auction are the boots Pincay
wore the final day of his career, as well as a dinner with Hall of Fame riders Pincay, Bill Shoemaker, McCarron, and Eddie Delahoussaye at The Derby Restaurant near Santa Anita.
Santos said he will donate a large photograph of Funny Cide winning this year's Kentucky Derby. And he will sign the photo, which will also be auctioned Friday.
The Disabled Jockeys' Endowment assists the 47 permanently disabled members of the National Jockeys' Guild.
Albarado, Sellers friends then and now
It has been just over five years since Robby Albarado suffered a serious skull fracture in a spill at Churchill Downs. Shortly after the accident, Albarado's close friend and fellow Louisiana native Shane Sellers dominated the All-Star Jockey Challenge at Lone Star by winning three of the four All-Star races.
In a memorable gesture, Sellers dedicated his victory that night to Albarado, an acknowledgement to a friendship that still runs deep. Friday, for the first time since Sellers returned from a serious knee injury that threatened his career, the two Kentucky-based jockeys will travel together to Dallas for the jockey competition.
Sellers rode in the first four All-Star events but missed the last two because of the injury. For Albarado, this is his fifth straight year in the competition. He has been shut out three times and managed just 3 points in 2001.
"I've struggled," Albarado said. "My 'A' horses haven't been very good, and hardly any of my horses have run very well."
He added with a laugh: "At least I'm hoping that's what the problem's been."
Sellers and Albarado will fly from Dallas to Cleveland on Saturday morning for the Ohio Derby at Thistledown, where they will ride the probable favorites: Sellers on Wild and Wicked, and Albarado on Midway Road. Both jockeys will be back Sunday at Churchill.
Prayer breakfast open to public
Activities related to the Jockey Championship start early. The fifth annual Prayer Breakfast will begin at 9 a.m. in the pavilion garden. The keynote speaker will be Don Dean, an owner and breeder from Maryland who is in his second term as president of the Race Track Chaplaincy of America.
The event is free, but reservations are required. They are available through the chaplain's offices at Lone Star.
No 'Blues' for Turf Cup
Contrary to expectations, Touch of the Blues did not arrive at Lone Star on Tuesday for the $250,000 Dallas Turf Cup, a 1 1/8-mile race to be run here Saturday.
Touch of the Blues was expected by racing officials, but the horse who actually is bedded down at Lone Star for the race is Slew the Red. Both horses are trained by Neil Drysdale.
Even the stable gate was expecting Touch of the Blues. His name was signed into the backstretch Tuesday instead of Slew the Red.
In place of Touch of the Blues, the probable favorite for the Dallas Turf Cup will be Patrol, who was to arrive from New York on Thursday. On that same plane will be Statement, also set to run in the Dallas Turf Cup.
In his last start, Patrol was third in the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve at Churchill Downs.
- additional reporting by Marty McGee