By Jim Freer
Frank & Dino’s Restaurant in Deerfield Beach, Fla., on March 28 will hold its third annual fundraiser for the Permanently Disabled Jockey Fund (PDJF).
Ramon Dominguez, a three-time Eclipse Award winning jockey, will be the guest of honor. He retired in 2013 due to head injuries sustained during a spill in a race at Aqueduct on Jan. 18 that year.
The program will start at 6 p.m. It will have cocktails, dinner, entertainment and a silent auction.
There is a donation of $200 per person. Tables for ten may be sponsored for $2,000 per table.
The deadline for reservations is March 25. They may be made by calling Frank & Dino’s at (954) 427-4909.
Frank & Dino’s is at 718 S. Federal Highway in Deerfield Beach.
“This is a great organization and we are very pleased to help,” said Carlo Vaccarezza, a thoroughbred owner and trainer and co-owner of Frank & Dino’s.
“These young men and women put their safety and their lives on the line every day,” he said. “The medical costs from injuries can be enormous.”
Vaccarezza estimates that Frank & Dino’s has raised at least $60,000 for the PDJF in each of its two fundraisers.
“We don’t take a penny of the proceeds,” he said. “We pay for the food and all the other costs.”
John Williams, Frank & Dino’s other owner, is an owner of thoroughbreds including several in partnerships of Little Dreams Racing of which Vaccarezza is managing partner.
The PDJF is a 501(c)(3) public charity that provides financial assistance to approximately 60 former jockeys who have suffered catastrophic on-track injuries. Since its founding in 2006, the fund has disbursed over $7 million to permanently disabled jockeys, most of whom have sustained paralysis or brain injuries.
The Jockeys’ Guild and the Thoroughbred Racing Association (TRA), whose members are 43 U.S. and Canadian race tracks, are among financial supporters of the PDJF.
In addition to Dominguez, it is expected that other well-known jockeys and some prominent trainers and owners will attend the fundraiser at Frank & Dino’s.
“It will be the start of Florida Derby week, and we expect a good turnout,” Vaccarezza said.
He strongly suggested making reservations, but added that “we will not turn people away.”
“If you can’t attend, we hope that you can still contribute whatever you can to the PDJF,” he said.
Checks may be made out to the PDJF and mailed to Frank & Dino’s.
Paul Pompa, a thoroughbred owner based in New York, will not be able to attend the March 28 event. But he has told Vaccarezza that he will purchase a sponsored table.
“We appreciate Paul’s support,” Vaccarezza said. “He is sending the right message to the industry.”
Pompa is best known as the co-owner, with IEAH Stables, of Big Brown. In 2008, that horse won the Florida Derby, Kentucky Derby and Preakness—all Grade 1 stakes.
Among items in the silent auction will be halters worn in races by multiple graded stakes winners Mohaymen and Little Mike.
Mohaymen won this year’s Holy Bull (Grade 2) and Fountain of Youth (Grade 2), both at Gulfstream Park. Kiaran McLaughlin, Mohaymen’s trainer, donated the halter.
Little Mike, a 9-year-old gelding, is still in training. He is trained and was bred by Vaccarezza and is owned by his wife Priscilla.
Dominguez rode Little Mike in his wins in the 2012 Arlington Million (Grade 1) at Arlington Park and in the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Turf (Grade 1) at Santa Anita Park.
It is anticipated that photos and other memorabilia signed by Dominguez and other top jockeys will be items in the silent auction.
About the PDJF
The PDJF was established in 2006. Originally under the auspices of National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) Charities, the PDJF became a stand-alone charity on January 1, 2009. The Disabled Jockeys Endowment Fund was merged with the PDJF at the end of 2009.
The PDJF is governed by a board whose members are primarily racing industry officials and jockeys. It is seeking to raise enough of an endowment to develop into a self-sustaining organization that would be capable of providing for the near-term and long-term needs of permanently disabled riders.
Meanwhile, it is asking for financial support so that it may continue to assist permanently disabled jockeys with their day-to-day needs.
The medical needs of disabled jockeys are great and may include daily assistance from a caregiver. In today’s healthcare environment, costs continue to escalate — posing still more challenges to individuals who courageously test their limits every day.
The Jockeys’ Guild, based in Lexington, Ky., has a program under which jockeys can purchase health insurance and a temporary disability policy for which jockeys are eligible.
Contact: Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund (PDJF) P.O. Box 803, Elmhurst, ILL; telephone (630) 595-7660; fax (630) 595-7655; email — firstname.lastname@example.org