Jockey and Fair Grounds regular Miguel Mena killed in accident

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Miguel Mena on Tom’s d’Etat

Miguel Mena, a jockey who frequently rode the winter circuit at Fair Grounds and whose biggest career wins had ties to New Orleans, was killed in an accident Sunday on I-64 in Louisville, less than a week shy of his 35th birthday.

Mena, a native of Lima, Peru, had 2,079 career wins from 16,232 starters over an 18-year career in the United States. His mounts earned more than $72 million. In 2021, Mena had 49 wins from 516 starters.

Mena’s best year was in 2007, when he ranked 26th in North America with 215 wins and 36th with $5.85 million in earnings.

Last winter, Mena placed 10th in the Fair Grounds rider standings with 28 wins. His mounts earned nearly $1.2 million.

In February 2020, Mena was selected as the inaugural winner of the Randy Romero Pure Courage Award, named for the late jockey and Erath native and awarded to a jockey who has overcome serious injury to return to the races. Because of COVID-19 restrictions, Mena did not receive the award until last winter.

I just read a post from Marty McGee from the Daily Racing Form confirming that jockey Miguel Mena was killed last night when he was hit by a car, walking on
I 64 in Louisville, Kentucky.
This is awful news for our racing community. Miguel leaves behind his wife and two young daughters, and many family members and friends.
Miguel was the first recipient of the Randy Romero “Pure Courage” Award last year.
Jeanette and I send our deepest condolences to his family and friends.

Posted by Rick Mocklin on Monday, November 1, 2021

In March 2018 at Fair Grounds, Mena was thrown from a mount and had eight severely fractured bones in his heel and ankle. At the time of the accident, Mena was the meet’s leading rider. He returned to the track six months later.

He had 37 career graded stakes wins, eight of which came at Fair Grounds. Three of those wins came in the track’s three graded stakes races for 3-year-olds in 2015 – the Lecomte, Risen Star and Louisiana Derby – aboard International Star. He also scored a graded stakes double on Feb. 20, 2010, winning the Mineshaft Handicap aboard Stonehouse and Silverbulletday Stakes on Jody Slew.

New Orleans native Al Stall Jr. trained each of the last three graded stakes winners Mena rode – Tom’s D’Etat, owned by Gayle Benson’s GMB Racing, in the Grade II Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs in June 2020; the Grade III Ohio Derby aboard Masqueparade, owned by New Orleans-based FTGGG Stables, in June 2021, and the Grade III Robert G. Dick Memorial Stakes at Delaware Park on Dalika in July 2021.

“The Stall family and the racetrack community are absolutely stunned by this,” Stall told WDRB-TV Monday. “He still had a lot of miles in front of him.”

Mena is survived by his wife, April, and two daughters.

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Lenny Vangilder


Lenny was involved in college athletics starting in the early 1980s, when he began working Tulane University sporting events while still attending Archbishop Rummel High School. He continued that relationship as a student at Loyola University, where he graduated in 1987. For the next 11 years, Vangilder worked in the sports information offices at Southwestern Louisiana (now UL-Lafayette) and Tulane;…

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