Updated on 09/17/2011 11:46AM

Stars align in Texas

Edgar Prado, Jose Santos (above), and Patrick Valenzuela head the dozen jockeys who will ride in the seventh All-Star Jockey Championship, a four-race competition at Lone Star Park on Friday evening.

GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - It's a fun night with a serious side. The National Thoroughbred Racing Association All-Star Jockey Championship, which will be held for the seventh time Friday night at Lone Star Park, is at its core a fund-raiser for the Disabled Jockeys' Endowment.

The event matches 12 of the nation's top riders in four races, and in the end, the jockey who earns the most points based on finishes in the races is declared the champ. This year, the field will be led by Jose Santos, whose popularity has skyrocketed because of his partnership with a gelding named Funny Cide.

Santos will be joined in the starting gate by Edgar Prado and Shane Sellers, past winners of the Jockey Championship, as well as Robby Albarado, Russell Baze, Jorge Chavez, Ryan Fogelsonger, Eddie Martin Jr., Richard Migliore, Mike Smith, Alex Solis, and Pat Valenzuela.

Together, the riders have won more than 45,000 races and $1.3 billion in purses.

"I think with the selections they have made this year, the competition is pretty much [equal]," said Santos. "It's a bunch of guys that can really, really ride. But that's how it is every year. They do a good job selecting the jockeys."

Last year, Chris McCarron won the Jockey Championship just a few nights before he retired as the all-time leading earner among riders. His presence helped pull in a strong ontrack crowd of 14,382, while handle on the card from all sources was $4.4 million.

"We usually draw in the mid-teens for the event," said Corey Johnsen, a group vice president for Magna Entertainment, which owns Lone Star. "We've got a great group of jockeys this year, and I'm confident we'll be very competitive with previous years."

In its six runnings, attendance for the Jockey Championship has averaged 15,310, and handle, $4.1 million.

In addition to the purses offered on the four Jockey Championship races, which will go as the fourth, fifth, seventh and eighth, each rider in the competition will earn at least $14,000 of the record $200,000 in prize money available Friday.

The winner gets the biggest share, $25,000, while the second-place finisher will earn $18,000; third place, $17,000; fourth place, $16,000; and fifth through 12th place, $14,000.

Those levels were established a few years ago as part of a contract renewal that put the Jockey Championship at Lone Star through 2003. The National Jockeys' Guild and Lone Star management will likely discuss a new contract this weekend, said Johnsen.

"At this time, we're focusing on making this the best event we possibly can, and raising as much money as we can for the Disabled Jockeys' Endowment," he said.

So far, more than $600,000 has been raised in the six-year history of the Jockey Championship, which is co-sponsored by Daily Racing Form. In addition to auction items, a lunch, and a golf tournament, funds are raised through an autograph session and wagering handle on the races.

Lone Star will contribute 1 percent of the handle on the four Jockey Championship races to the Endowment, as well as 1 percent of the handle on the All-Star Wager.

The All-Star proposition bet enables patrons to wager on the outcome of the competition.

Riders were assigned mounts Wednesday when the card was drawn. In order to keep the competition fair, every jockey will ride one horse during the series from each of the four categories - A, B, C, and D.

The A horses are favorites, while the D horses are longshots. For their finishes in each of the races, the riders earn points: for a win, 12; second place, 6; third, 4; fourth, 3. In the case of a scratch, 1 point is awarded to the jockey whose mount defected. In the end, the rider with the most points wins the championship.

Last year, McCarron won the competition with 24 points, while the runner-up, Edgar Prado, earned 18.

Laffit Pincay Jr., the all-time victory leader among riders who retired earlier this year after being injured, will be feted during a luncheon Friday afternoon at Lone Star.

The first race in the Jockey Championship series is scheduled to go off at 8:15 p.m. Central. The final race, after which the top rider will be honored, is a highly competitive turf sprint starter-allowance that carries a purse of $50,000. The race is scheduled for 10:15 p.m.

The Jockey Championship will be televised live on HorseRacing TV.