05/27/2002 11:00PM

Jock championship lineup


GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - Victor Espinoza, regular rider on Triple Crown hopeful War Emblem, and Russell Baze, the nation's winningest rider through Tuesday, will be competing in the National Thoroughbred Racing Association Jockey Championship for the first time when the four-race competition is held June 21 at Lone Star Park.

Officials on Tuesday announced 10 of the 12 jockeys invited to compete. Those returning are past Jockey Championship winners Edgar Prado and Laffit Pincay Jr., who was in town to make the announcement, as well as Robby Albarado, Jorge Chavez, Eddie Delahoussaye, Kent Desormeaux, Chris McCarron, and Alex Solis.

The final two invitees are still to be determined. The winner of an online poll running through Friday at ntra.com will earn a berth, and so will the leading rider at Lone Star through the close of racing June 2. Corey Lanerie leads the standings with 33 wins, one more than Anthony Lovato and Gerard Melancon, who are tied for second place.

The online poll gives voters 10 riders to choose from: Javier Castellano, Jon Court, Ramon Dominguez, Eddie Martin Jr., Richard Migliore, Corey Nakatani, Jeremy Rose, Mike Smith, Patrick Valenzuela, and John Velazquez.

Jockey Championship regulars Pat Day and Jerry Bailey were invited to compete, but cannot this year because of scheduling conflicts.

A portion of handle from the four Championship races and the All-Star Wager - a bet on which rider wins the competition - as well as proceeds from an auction and golf tournament will benefit the Disabled Jockeys Endowment Fund, rather than the Disabled Riders Fund, which has been the recipient for the past five years. Also this year, a portion of the proceeds from the auction will go to Randy Romero, who is awaiting a kidney and liver transplant.

The guest of honor at the Jockey Championship will be Joe Hirsch of Daily Racing Form.