Travers riders to help injured local rider
SARATOGA SPRINGS -- Each of the seven jockeys riding in today's $1 million Travers have pledged 10 percent of their purse earnings from the race to help establish a fund to aid East Greenbush native Michael Straight, a 23-year-old apprentice rider who was critically injured in a spill at Arlington Park on Thursday.
"This was an easy decision," said John Velazquez, chairman of the Jockeys' Guild and rider of 8-5 program favorite Quality Road. "What happened to Michael is a tragedy and we want to do whatever we can to help support him and his family during this difficult time."
Matthew Straight, Michael's twin brother, said the family has been overwhelmed by the support his family has received from the industry.
"We are so grateful and appreciative," Matt Straight said. "We all need to stay positive and keep praying."
Matt Straight issued a statement this morning regarding his brother, who had surgery on Friday:
"Mike is now responsive to commands. We know it's going to be a slow step-by-step process but we are staying optimistic and staying strong. He is scheduled to undergo a few procedures today.
"Please continue to keep Mike in your thoughts and prayers."
Michael Straight was injured and taken to Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill. following an incident in the eighth race Wednesday at Arlington Park. Straight fell from his mount and suffered injuries to the spine, including four broken vertebrae. Doctors at Lutheran General Hospital performed spinal surgery on Thursday and inserted a flexible rod to stabilize the spine.
Following his brother's lead, Straight graduated from Chris McCarron's North American Racing Academy in 2008. He won the first race of his career at Tampa Bay Downs in March 2009 and has ridden a total of 39 winners in 372 races.