National Hall of Fame jockey Chris McCarron, who twice won the Kentucky Derby, will host a Casino Night Fundraiser Tuesday, April 26 at Canterbury Park to benefit the Leg Up Fund. Established in 2014, the Leg Up Fund provides emergency financial assistance to jockeys injured while riding at the Shakopee, Minn. racetrack.
The Casino Night will be held from 7 – 9:30 p.m. in Canterbury’s Triple Crown Club. Admission is $35 in advance or $45 at the door and includes a presentation by McCarron, dinner, soda, and 3,000 in chips. A $100 per-person VIP Meet and Greet event from 6 – 7:00 p.m. that includes appetizers, open bar, and 6,000 in chips precedes the main event. Tickets can be purchased by calling (952) 445-7224.
“I am really looking forward to participating in the Leg Up fundraiser. I have fond memories of Canterbury, having won the first ever turf race there on a mare named Sauna in the inaugural Lady Canterbury Handicap in 1986,” McCarron said.
McCarron has long appreciated the need to assist injured riders. He, along with actor Tim Conway, founded the Don MacBeth Memorial Jockey Fund in 1987 and was involved until the fund ceased operation in 2011. The MacBeth Fund provided financial assistance and helped with the cost of medical and rehabilitation services for injured riders nationally.
“I really appreciate and respect the fans at Canterbury as well as the riders, owners and trainers because of the very generous contributions they made to the Don MacBeth Memorial Jockey Fund and I know they support the Leg Up Fund with the same enthusiasm,” McCarron said. “Each year while the MacBeth Fund was operating, Canterbury was a leader in contributions on our ‘Jockeys Across America’ day. Minnesota race fans should be very proud of that accomplishment and of what they are now doing with the Leg Up Fund.”
Guests at the Casino Night use their chips to play games of chance such as blackjack, Let It Ride and Texas Hold ’em. and become eligible to win prizes including a round of golf April 27 with McCarron at Hazeltine National Golf Club, home of the 2016 Ryder Cup; a Minnesota Twins game as a guest of McCarron; Ryder Cup tickets; and a Day at the Races in the Owner’s Box. A live auction will also be held for similar items.
McCarron began riding as a professional in 1974 and won the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Apprentice Jockey that year. In 1977, he scored the first of his three victories in the Kentucky Oaks. In 1980, he won the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey and the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award.
McCarron won nine Breeders’ Cup races, including five runnings of the Classic. He also won the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes twice each. Other major wins for McCarron include the Del Mar Oaks (4 times), Del Mar Futurity (4), Del Mar Handicap (6), Del Mar Debutante Stakes (3), La Jolla Handicap (7), San Bernardino Handicap (6), Clement L. Hirsch Handicap (7), San Felipe Stakes (7), Florida Derby, Eddie Read Handicap, Bing Crosby Handicap, Jockey Club Gold Cup (2), Arlington Million, Fantasy Stakes (4), San Clemente Handicap (5), Hollywood Gold Cup, Woodward Stakes (2), Santa Anita Handicap (3), Haskell Invitational (2), Santa Anita Derby (4), San Diego Handicap (6), Pacific Classic, Canadian International and Japan Cup.
McCarron rode many of the best horses of his era, including John Henry, Alysheba, Precisionist, Lady’s Secret, Sunday Silence, Paseana, Tiznow, Touch Gold, Go for Gin and Alphabet Soup.
He led all North American jockeys in earnings in 1980, 1981, 1984 and 1991. He also topped the leaderboard in wins in 1974, 1975 and 1980. McCarron retired in 2002 with 7,141 wins and purse earnings of $263,985,905. He currently instructs aspiring jockeys at the North American Racing Academy, which he founded to help hone the skills of young riders.
McCarron was inducted into the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame in 1989.