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Leg Up Fund

Anne Von Rosen
Anne Von Rosen

Fans place a certain amount of faith and trust in the riders aboard the horses they wager on each racing day at Canterbury Park. In a reversal of that expectation, it is the riders who believe that fans will participate any way they can in the Leg Up Fund that is being established today at Canterbury.

 The Fund is intended to fill some of the void left when the Don MacBeth Memorial Jockey Fund was discontinued a few years ago. Unlike that effort which benefited injured riders nationwide, the Leg Up Fund is intended exclusively for jockeys at Canterbury Park.

 “It’s a tremendous idea,” said Canterbury Hall of Fame rider Scott Stevens, who frequently advocates on behalf of his fellow riders. “We’re basically athletes who don’t have a contract, whose only agreement is for the horse we’re riding at a given time. It’s not like other sports. We don’t get paid if we don’t ride.”

 Perhaps Sunday’s inaugural fundraiser should be called Anne Von Rosen Day. All money raised will be used to benefit the long-time Canterbury rider, who was paralyzed in an accident at Turf Paradise Racetrack in March and has been accruing ongoing and onerous medical expense.

  “I can’t imagine the medical bills involved,” said fellow rider Lori Keith. “This (Fund) sounds like a tremendous plan. Hopefully we’ll have a good day and a good crowd.”

 Several events will be staged in conjunction with Sunday’s racing card to raise money on Von Rosen’s behalf, some of them on the main floor of the grandstand and others in the surrounding outdoor area. Wrist-bands bearing Von Rosen’s initials have been sold on the premises for some time and will be available again today. Dunk tank opportunities featuring several race-track celebrities are available. Pool noodles can be purchased for use by youngsters during stick-horse races later in the day. Photo selfies can be taken with your favorite rider for a donation, and a silent auction, featuring a variety of donated items, is being conducted on the first floor of the grandstand. A 50cc scooter is being raffled as well.

 The riders themselves will donate $100 from each race they win and solicit matching amounts or more from racing fans, trainers and other horsemen.

 Keith has been in contact on Facebook with Von Rosen, keeping her abreast of local news. Von Rosen was moved to the Craig Rehabilitation Center in Denver after successive surgeries in Phoenix following the accident and later she returned to Germany, where her parents reside, for additional care. 

 Recently, she has been receiving spinal treatments in Puerto Rico.

 “Her grit and guts are truly brilliant,” said Keith, who was viewing a Facebook photo of her injured colleague earlier in the week. “There was a picture on there of her on the beach, on her knees in the shallow end of the water. She’s absolutely gritty.”

 Keith, in return, provided Von Rosen with an update of the news at Canterbury and the auction being staged on her behalf.

 Von Rosen is not the first Canterbury Park regular to sustain crippling injuries on the racetrack. Three-time Quarter Horse riding champion Tad Leggett was paralyzed a few years ago in a riding accident and, like Von Rosen, has been confined to a wheelchair since.

 Injuries such as theirs and worse are not uncommon in racing. Last week an exercise rider at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto was killed when the horse he was riding suffered an apparent heart attack.

 Stevens, too, had seen the picture of Von Rosen on her knees in the Caribbean water and was amazed. “She’s very determined and she’s a tough, tough lady,” he said. “Minnesota was always the top state in donations for the Don MacBeth Fund. I really think there will be a good turnout for Anne, too.”

 Anne and many of her former colleagues at Canterbury are betting on it.

by Jim Wells