ARCADIA, Calif. (March 24, 2010)—A group of Santa Anita-based jockeys will sign autographs and participate in a “meet and greet” gathering with special-needs youngsters provided by AbilityFirst, in Santa Anita’s famed Seabiscuit Walking Ring from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, April 1. The event is intended to raise public awareness of AbiltyFirst and to help promote Santa Anita’s Derby Day 5K Walk and Run on Saturday, April 3.

The Santa Anita Derby Day 5K is part of AbilityFirst’s Marathon Campaign, which is presented by Comerica Bank. AbilityFirst program participants and their families, along with friends and employees, are walking and running, raising money to enhance programs and services offered at all 24 AbilityFirst Southern California locations. In its 25-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, Joel Rosario, Mike Smith, Alex Solis, Chantal Sutherland and Joe Talamo, AbilityFirst participants will be able to get autographs and have pictures taken, witness a saddling demonstration, learn how to groom a racehorse, feed (candies and carrots) horses and take an actual ride in the walking ring.

It has also been confirmed that the Easter Bunny will make an appearance and will have healthy treats in-foot.

“We’re very excited to once again be able to work with folks at AbilityFirst,” said Santa Anita Community Events Coordinator Pete Siberell. “We were very successful in raising a substantial amount of money with them last year and we’re confident we can build on that success this year. AbilityFirst is a first-class, highly respected organization and it’s great to once again include them in our Derby Day 5K.

“We’re going to be offering their kids some new things this year and this will provide them with a genuine opportunity to learn some hands-on horsemanship. It’s been widely documented that working with animals, including horses, can be very beneficial to special needs persons and this is a great opportunity for all of us. It should be a lot of fun.”

The annual AbilityFirst Marathon Campaign consists of two events: The Santa Anita Derby Day 5K on April 3 and the Los Angeles Marathon, which was held on March 21 in Los Angeles.

For the third consecutive year, Comerica Bank is demonstrating their support of AbilityFirst as a Presenting Sponsor of the Marathon Campaign. Comerica Bank is contributing $30,000 to help fulfill AbilityFirst’s mission of helping individuals with disabilities realize their full potential.

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.

AbilityFirst Marathon Campaign information can be found 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 73rd Santa Anita Derby will be run on April 3, with the Derby Day 5K Walk and Run getting underway the same day at 7:45 a.m. For more information, fans are encouraged to visit

First race post time on Derby Day is 12 noon.