ARCADIA, Calif. (Mar. 18, 2009)—A group of Santa Anita-based jockeys will participate in a “meet and greet” gathering with special-needs youngsters provided by AbilityFirst, in Santa Anita’s fabled Seabiscuit Walking Ring from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, Mar. 26, to promote Santa Anita’s Derby Day 5K Walk and Run on April 4.

AbilityFirst is a Pasadena-based charity that enables both children and adults with physical and developmental disabilities to realize their full potential. AbilityFirst also works to meet the needs of those afflicted with autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome and epilepsy.
The Santa Anita Derby Day 5K is part of AbilityFirst’s Marathon Campaign, which raises money to enhance programs and services to children and adults with disabilities at all 24 of its locations. In its 24-year history, the Marathon Campaign has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars.

In addition to meeting such jockeys as Tyler Baze, Rafael Bejarano, David Flores, Garrett Gomez, Aaron Gryder, Joel Rosario, Mike Smith, Alex Solis Chantal Sutherland and Joe Talamo, AbilityFirst participants will be able to meet the actual horse who portrayed the immortal Seabiscuit in the 2003 blockbuster film of the same name.

Along with the jockeys, “Seabiscuit” will be available for autographs, photos, candies and carrots.

“We’re very excited to have the opportunity to work with AbilityFirst this year,” said Santa Anita Community Events Coordinator Pete Siberell. “AbilityFirst is a first class, highly respected organization that helps those who need it the most. Having them associated with the Santa Anita Derby 5K Walk and Run is truly a win-win for everyone.

“The meet and greet that we have planned next week should be a big hit with their special-needs kids and to have the jockeys participating in this is just tremendous. We’re confident this is going to attract many more people’s attention to the Derby 5K Walk and Run, and to the race itself,” he added.

AbilityFirst Marathon Campaign information can be found, and sponsorships made, at

In addition to its association with AbilityFirst, Santa Anita Park will also make community donations to the Arcadia High School Athletic Boosters Club, the Arcadia Historical Museum and the Arcadia-area Explorer Scouts.

The 72nd Santa Anita Derby will be run on Santa Anita Derby Day, Saturday, April 4. The Derby Day 5K Walk and Run will get under way at 7:45 a.m. For more information on registration, go to
First race post time on Derby Day is 12 noon.