Jockey Miguel Mena
Miguel Mena, one of the winningest jockeys in Churchill Downs history and a two-time winner of the prestigious Stephen Foster Stakes, was killed in a pedestrian accident on westbound I-64 between Blakenbaker Parkway and Hurstbourne Lane in Louisville on Sunday night. He was 34, just days shy of his 35th birthday on Saturday.
“This news is absolutely shocking, terrible and heartbreaking,” said Churchill Downs Racetrack President Mike Anderson. “Our team is devastated to learn of Miguel’s passing. He was such a courageous rider who fought to overcome several challenges and adversity. We’ll miss his bright smile. Our deepest condolences are extended to his many friends, fellow riders and family, and our immediate thoughts are with his wife April and his daughters Naelah and Montserrat.”
Mena won 2,079 races in North America and his mounts in 16,234 races earned $72,483,396 in prize money. He recorded 136 career stakes wins, including 37 against graded stakes company led by the 2010 Test (Grade 1) aboard Champagne d’Oro and 2011 Stephen Foster (G1) on Pool Play.
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Popular rider Miguel Mena hit milestone win number 2,000 after taking the fifth race July 3 at Ellis Park in Henderson, Ky. The victory came aboard Michael Langford’s Substantial ($6.80) in a one-mile maiden special weight on the turf for trainer Randy Morse.
“People on Twitter had told me I was one win away,” said Mena, a native of Peru. “I’ve been riding since I was 16 and I came to the U.S. when I was 17… so it’s been awhile … I’ve been here 15 years. I feel good about 2,000. I’ve put a lot of hard work into it and it has paid off. I came with a lot (of) dreams and I was very hungry and worked my ass off. I’m very grateful for this country and it has given me a better life, not only for me but (for) my family. I’m very grateful to America.
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A three-horse spill in Thursday’s eighth race at Fair Grounds Race Course & slots injured a pair of riders. Kerwin Clark was aboard ill-fated Ellashoo when the 4-year-old filly broke down nearing the five-sixteenth’s pole, setting off a chain reaction that resulted a pair of other horses falling – A Fashion Affair (Miguel Mena) and Queen Bernardina (Gabriel Saez).
Clark complained of pain in his neck, jaw and ribs and Miguel Mena, who entered the day as Fair Grounds leading rider at the meet with 55 victories, suffered an injury to his right ankle. Both were transported to University Medical Center of New Orleans for further evaluation.
Mena was diagnosed with multiple fractures in his right ankle and heel, according to drf.com. The jockey could miss as much as six months because of the injury.
Clark suffered a collapsed lung, a broken jaw, and at least one broken rib, per his agent, Charles Ashy Jr.
Saez got up under his own power and rode the next race. Ellashoo had to be put down. Trainer Bret Calhoun reported that his Queen Bernardina “appears to be fine”. Andrew Valenzuela, trainer of A Fashion Affair, was unable to be reached.