Randy Sampson is a member of the Jockeys and Jeans organizing committee and has been helpful in advising it on track relations and fundraising. The track he and his family own in Shakopee, MN hosted the 2018 Jockeys and Jeans Fundraiser, raising $268,000. Sampson will accept the award at its eighth annual fundraiser on July 2 at Churchill Downs.
“Of course, I am truly honored,” he said “But there are likely some out there who more deserve the recognition. But it is not about recognition, it’s about the opportunity to speak for and help disabled former riders.”
Jockeys and Jeans, an all-volunteer group founded by five former jockeys, has raised more than $2 million for Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund. Jockeys and Jeans President Barry Pearl termed Sampson, “a Godsent,” saying “Not only has he and the track been major contributors, he is roll-up-your-sleeves type of guy who not only knows how to get a lot of things done but is willing to spend the time to get them done.”
Sampson has been the guiding force of Canterbury Park since purchasing the Minnesota racetrack in 1994 with his father Curtis Sampson and Dale Schenian. He has served as CEO since 1994 and Chairman since 2020. Under his leadership the Canterbury Park team has revived live horse racing in Minnesota and earned a reputation for innovative ways to attract large crowds and create a family friendly atmosphere. Canterbury also operates a card casino and hosts a wide variety of special events keeping the facility active year-round.
The track gives back 5 percent of pre-tax profits annually, mainly through the Canterbury Park Minnesota Fund. Sampson, his family and Canterbury Park, have long supported problem gambling organizations, the Racetrack Chaplaincy, the PDJF and recently Jockeys and Jeans. A strong supporter of the now defunct Don MacBeth Memorial Fund, Sampson founded the Leg Up program that provides funding for jockeys injured while riding at Canterbury Park.
He said one of his most vivid memories is running to the track and standing beside a medical helicopter when his long-time friend, jockey Scott Stevens, was severely injured. Jockeys Anne Van Rosen, Paul Nolan and Quarter Horse jockey Tad Leggett, while not injured at Canterbury Park, rode regularly there before they suffered racing injuries that left them in wheelchairs.
“I think all tracks have an obligation to help,” he said. “People like Paul Nolan now live in a rest home and your heart has to go out to them. The sacrifices they made make them the heroes of our sport and we need to help them as we continue to work on the safety issues that hopefully will help us avoid those accidents.”
Fifteen Hall of Fame Jockeys, including 12 who have won 17 Kentucky Derby’s and two of the five living Triple Crown winners, are scheduled to attend Jockeys and Jeans at Churchill Downs and honor eight of their fallen brothers and sisters. It will be held July 2, the spring meeting’s final day when Grade II Stephen Foster Stakes is run. It begins at 11:00 a.m. in the track’s Triple Crown Room, with tickets $75 on sale on Ticketmaster at https://www.ticketmaster.com/event/16005B5CAD1637A6?did=jockey and can be accessed at www.jockeysandjeans.com and on the track’s website. There will be a live auction of a host of rare racing memorabilia as well as silent auction. The riders, including those permanently disabled, will sign special autographed posters and other memorabilia brought by fans at a special signing in the grandstand.