Gerard Melancon, who will ride leading contender Sonneteer in the Super Derby on Saturday at Louisiana Downs, helped spearhead a drive for items needed by families displaced by Hurricane Harvey. Melancon and fellow rider Alexis Batista organized the Friday night donation event, held in the jockeys’ room at Evangeline Downs.
“All the jocks got together, and the valets, and put up a little something to help the people over there,” Melancon said, adding that the effort was aided by chaplain Dwight Brown.
Melancon said more than 50 cases of water were donated, along with badly needed diapers. The items were sent to a shelter in Lake Charles, La., that is housing displaced folks from Texas.
“I always like to try to help,” Melancon said. “I kind of asked all the jocks’ rooms around the country to maybe do something, too.”
Melancon will be riding Sonneteer for the first time in the Super Derby.
“I’ve watched all of his reruns,” Melancon said. “It looks like he’s a deep closer. He won his only start on the turf last out. He got through on the fence. I know he’s got a lot of heart. You can pass anywhere you need to pass with him. He’s definitely a live mount.”
Melancon won the Super Derby in 2004 with Fantasticat.
Others in racing who have stepped up to help those affected by Hurricane Harvey include Jim McIngvale, who raced the champion Runhappy. He opened his furniture-store showrooms to displaced residents of Houston. In addition, NTRA Charities, a subsidiary of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, announced Wednesday plans to donate $5,000 to the Penn National Gaming Foundation for the Sam Houston Race Park employees impacted by Hurricane Harvey. Sam Houston is co-owned by Penn National Gaming.