The jockey colony at Indiana Grand is very generous each year at the end of the season. The group pulls together to donate toys to the local “Breakfast with Santa” event set for Saturday, Dec. 12. With a tough year leading up to the holidays, the jockeys have stepped up even more this season, donating a total of 61 toys, a new record for the annual toy drive.
“I have three kids myself and we are fortunate enough to provide toys for them,” said Manny Esquivel. “I come from a very poor place in Mexico, and just thinking about it, it’s hard to think about kids not getting toys for Christmas. I used to play with a stick and make wheels to put on it, and I had fun. But just imaging the kids getting toys, it’s something special. I just wish I was there to see their faces when they get them.”
Last year, the jockeys collected 56 toys for “Breakfast with Santa” held through Shelby Parks and Recreation. The event includes two sessions with breakfast catered by Denny’s, a visit with Santa, and now thanks to the jockeys, kids will go home with a toy.
“This is great thing we do each year, and I look forward to it,” said DeShawn Parker, current leading rider at Indiana Grand. “And, because of Covid, I’m sure there are many more families this year that will struggle to get toys for their kids. Hopefully, this will help out and provide a little better Christmas for some kids this year.”
Jockeys included in the photo for the toy donation, from left, include Marcelino Pedroza Jr., Tommy Pompell, Fernando De La Cruz, DeShawn Parker, Geena Lucille, Kendall Sterritt, Angel Reyes, Emmanuel Esquivel, Chris Creel, clerk of scales, Alex Achard and Sammy Bermudez (kneeling).
The abbreviated 2020 racing season comes to a close Thursday, Nov. 19 after completing 96 days of racing. Racing dates for 2021 will be approved and announced by the Indiana Horse Racing Commission in December.