The group of nine friends from Louisiana that launched the Randy Romero Pure Courage Award this year to honor the Racing Hall of Fame rider who died in 2019, as well as current jockeys who overcome adversity, announced their first winner Feb. 20: Miguel Mena.
Mena battled back from severe injuries suffered in a spill March 18, 2018, at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, where he suffered multiple fractures in his right heel and ankle. At the time, he was the meet’s leading rider. He returned to riding later that year and earned a pair of grade 3 wins in 2019 at Keeneland, guiding Bobby’s Wicked One to victory in the Commonwealth Stakes and Peace Achieved to a score in the Dixiana Bourbon Stakes. Organizers noted that Mena prevailed in a close vote that included finalists Tim Thornton, Victor Espinoza, and Kendrick Carmouche.
The Pure Courage Award will be presented between races at Fair Grounds March 21, which is Louisiana Derby Day. The trophy is being designed by Steve Gibson of Gibson Artworks, and the presentation will be made by Dan Schneider; his wife, Annie; and their daughter, Kristi. The Schneiders are the focus of the highly acclaimed documentary “The Pharmacist.”
Romero, a winner of 4,294 races and $75.2 million in earnings from 1973-99, was the regular rider of such elite distaffers as Go for Wand and Personal Ensign, with whom he teamed to win the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) in 1988 to complete an unbeaten career. He won 122 graded stakes and riding titles at 10 tracks.