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Jockeys Help Jockeys at Fund-Raiser

July 2, 1998

Judy McCarron is well aware of the dangers of race riding. Her husband, Chris, is a jockey.

Tim Conway is aware, too. When he was younger, the comedian wanted to be a jockey.

``I galloped horses in Cleveland, at Randall Park, which burned down,″ Conway said. ``I fell off enough times to know I wasn’t going to be a jockey. You know you’re in the wrong job when an ambulance follows you to work.″

Conway was joking, but he knows the serious consequences a spill in a race can have on a jockey’s life ... if he survives.

``Chris has been hurt three times really badly,″ McCarron said. Her 43-year-old husband is in the National Racing Hall of Fame and continues to be top-flight race rider.

Ten years ago, the McCarrons and Conway founded the Don MacBeth Memorial Jockey Funds to assist injured and disabled jockeys. It is named after the jockey, who, Judy McCarron said, ``was always helping other jockeys.″ MacBeth died of cancer in 1987.

``We’ve helped about a thousand riders, with wheel chairs, trailers, almost anything, all the way up false teeth,″ said Conway, a vice president of the MacBeth Fund and long a staunch supporter of racing.

``They stop riding, the money stops, but the bills don’t stop,″ president Judy McCarron said. ``We pay to keep guys going day to day. We pay for things like rent and electricity.″

So far the MacBeth Fund has distributed $2.4 million to injured and paralyzed riders in North America, who need aid.

On Saturday, Jockeys Across America Day X, the fund’s 10th annual national money raiser, will be held at more than 80 tracks in the United States and Canada.

``It’s a good way for jockeys to help other jockeys,″ Judy McCarron said. ``Our goal is to raise $100,000.″

One goal is to have every rider at every track donate to the fund, whether they have a mount that day or not. Fans also are invited to send the cost of a $2 mutuel ticket to the fund.

Festivities on Saturday will include autograph sessions, watermelon feasts, bake sales, jockey dunk tanks, jockey foot races, tug-of-war competitions involving jockeys, trainers and owners, and the sale of MacBeth Fund caps and of posters. The poster features jockeys McCarron, Alex Solid, Laffit Pincay Jr., Gary Stevens and Eddie Delahoussaye.

The idea for the MacBeth Fund grew out a show Conway put on at Canterbury Downs, now Canterbury Park, a track in Minnesota.

``The gave me a few bucks and I said give it to the jockey’s fund,″ Conway recalled.

Judy McCarron remembers Conway ``wanted to donate $10,000 to help injured and disabled jockeys, but the Jockey’s Guild said they weren’t set up to take donations.″

``They told me there was no fund,″ Conway said. ``So we started one.″

Conway has owned about a dozen horses, but most of his visits to the winner’s circle were as somebody’s guest, so he became a former owner two years ago.

While his horses might not have been winners, Conway, however, definitely is, along with everyone involved with the MacBeth Fund.

It is a licensed charitable organization, and donations are tax deductible.

Fans can send donations to the Don MacBeth Memorial Jockey Fund; P.O. Box 17470; Encino, CA. 91416.