American Turf Magazine
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Jun 21, 2013



               I have been following racing since the late 70’s, a time when racing was great. The early 80’s was another great time in the history of racing, especially in New York where the top horses, top trainers and top jockeys called their home. Angel Cordero Jr., in my opinion, the best I ever saw, was at the top of his game during this time. I was only a kid, six years old in 1980, but loved coming to the races. That’s when the crowds were still strong, the top horses would run more than 4 times in a year and it was a great time to come to the racetrack. But I could always remember thinking how great Cordero was. He knew he was he was the best and rode like that. Jerry Bailey came into prominence in the late 80’s and into the 90’s and he was the dominant rider, passing his torch to John Velazquez who is still riding today at a high level but not like he did early in his career. As he has gotten older he is picking spots more carefully along with his agent Angel Cordero Jr. However, not until Ramon Dominguez came along had I seen someone be so dominant in New York.

               A native of Caracas, Venezuela, born on November 24th, 1976, Dominguez began riding horses in Venezuela in show jumping before turning to riding thoroughbreds. He came to the United States to begin riding at Hialeah race track in 1996. 4,985 wins later Ramon Dominguez is known globally as one of the best jockeys who ever sat in a saddle. However, unfortunately at 36 years old, Dominguez announced his retirement from riding. The reason was due to the head injuries he suffered in a spill at Aqueduct Racetrack on January 18th, 2013. He was riding the odds-on favorite, CONVOCATION who was moving into contention on the turn but he made a misstep when he clipped heels with the horse in front of him throwing Dominguez to the ground very hard. He was hospitalized with a fractured skull and then spent time in the ICU. He was transferred to a rehabilitation hospital for rehabilitation therapy. He was looking forward to making a comeback even giving an interview a few months back where he looked good and spoke about how excited he was about coming back to riding. However, he was advised by his physicians to end his career.

               He was such a dominant figure in New York, leading many meetings at all three tracks and was at his best against the best in the world here in New York. He was a family man, who along with his wife Sharon, have two young sons. He would stay here to ride in the winter instead of venturing off to one of the winter destinations of the top riders who wanted to get out of the cold and look for top Derby mounts. Instead Dominguez would stay here and ride on the inner track, dominating as usual and leaving for a mount or two when one of the big outfits would call on him. His character and class is undeniable, there was no one that could ever say a bad word about Dominguez. As a racing fan who has seen plenty of top riders come in and out of this colony, Dominguez would rank right up there. His hands were tremendous and his strength was unmatched. But perhaps his biggest asset was his smarts. He would always make the right decisions, always be in the right spots, save the ground when he needed too or go wide around the leaders if he thought that would win the race. Jerry Bailey was the only jockey who you could compare to Dominguez when it came to intelligence.

               Hopefully Dominguez can find something he will enjoy, I am sure whatever he does chose to do he will excel in. He can spend more time with his family now but selfishly I hope he stays in the game, this game needs top class people and Dominguez would be right up at the top of the list. If you can watch some of his rides, you will see a top class horseman, jockey and one of the most intelligent riders in the game. Good luck Ramon!

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