08/28/2009 11:00PM

Travers jockeys establish fund to help Straight


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - The seven jockeys scheduled to ride in Saturday's $1 million Shadwell Travers Stakes at Saratoga have pledged to donate 10 percent of their earnings to establish a fund for jockey Michael Straight, who suffered critical spinal injuries in a Wednesday spill at Arlington Park.

The fund will be set up through the Don MacBeth Memorial Jockey Fund, whose mission is to assist injured and disabled riders.

"This was an easy decision," said John Velazquez, chairman of the Jockeys' Guild and rider of Travers morning-line favorite Quality Road. "What happened to Michael is a tragedy and we want to do whatever we can to help support him and his family during this difficult time."

The other riders participating in the Travers are Calvin Borel, Kent Desormeaux, Ramon Dominguez, Alan Garcia, Julien Leparoux, and Edgar Prado.

"Our family is overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from the industry," said Matthew Straight, Michael's twin brother, who is also a jockey. "We are so grateful and appreciative. We need to all stay positive and keep praying."

Michael Straight, 23, is a native of East Greenbush, N.Y, which is about 40 miles south of Saratoga. He suffered four broken vertebrae in Wednesday's spill and underwent surgery on Thursday to insert a flexible rod to stabilize the spine.

On Saturday, Matthew Straight said that Michael was "responsive to commands" and "scheduled to undergo a few procedures" at Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill.

Straight, who was a student at Chris McCarron's North American Racing Academy, has ridden 39 winners from 372 starters.