Spilt-second decision-making and a skillful response to a loose horse in a race led Miguel Mena to be named the Jockeys’ Guild Jockey of the Week for May 8-14, 2017. The award is voted on by a panel of experts for riding accomplishments by members of the Jockeys’ Guild, the organization which represents more than 950 riders in North America.
In addition to talent and physical aptitude, successful athletes must quickly assess a situation and act, knowing when to deviate from a prescribed play or strategy. Jockeys are no exception, but must make the same decisions on the back of a Thoroughbred moving at full speed, knowing that any action they take affects not only their own safety but that of every fellow rider and horse in the race.
Miguel Mena demonstrated exceptional decision-making and horsemanship on Saturday at Churchill Downs. Winless on the card, he entered the eighth race with Archangel Rose, the third-choice among bettors in a field of twelve claimers. As the field made the first turn and entered the backstretch, one of the runners, Marine Pilot, clipped heels and lost rider Geovanni Franco. The loose horse had been fourth in the race before the incident, and was now riderless, mid-pack, with reins hanging dangerously close to his front legs as he ran.
Mena and Archangel Rose were settled far back when the incident occurred. Mena made up ground along the backstretch and caught up to Marine Pilot from the outside, where he managed to catch the loose horse’s reins and flip them back over its head. This maneuver prevented the horse from becoming tangled in its reins, helping to protect the horse and the riders behind it in the race.
This selfless action may have cost the pair time in the race, but Mena continued to pass horses five-wide around the turn before placing second, beaten less than a length by Star Cross ($30.00).
Mena finished in the money in 39% of his 23 races last week and earned $57,221. In 2017, he has 44 wins from 342 starts and has earned $1,587,687; he has won five races and earned nearly $200,000 during the current Churchill meet.
His lifetime winnings total over $57 million in 13,182 starts and 1,734 victories. In addition to multiple graded stakes victories, Mena has earned riding titles at Ellis and Presque Isle.