The same day the Melbourne Cup was run and won, the horse racing world was shaken off tragic death of champion jockey Miguel Mena.
Churchill Downs announced the tragic news on Tuesday, revealing that the 34-year-old was killed in a pedestrian accident.
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Mena won nearly 2,100 full-blooded races in North America, earning $ 72.4 million in prize money throughout her career.
Churchill Downs said Mena was killed Sunday night on westbound Interstate 64 near Jeffersontown, a community in the eastern Louisville area.
That’s what Police Chief Rick Sanders told the Associated Press that Mena got out of a carpool, crossed the eastbound lanes of the highway, climbed over a retaining wall, and was hit by a vehicle driving in the westbound lanes.
The 34-year-old died on the spot.
Sanders said the driver was interviewed but not charged and that the investigation is pending.
Menas 451 victories in Churchill Downs rank as No. 15 through all time. He won 16 stakes races on the historic course, including two in the Stephen Foster Stakes, most recently last year aboard the Tom’s d’Etat.
His overall career victory includes 136 effort wins with 37 graded race triumphs.
Mena’s last trip was Saturday at Keeneland in Lexington, Kentucky. He would have turned 35 on Saturday.
Churchill Downs said Mena started riding regularly there in the fall of 2006. He finished among the top five riders in eight rallies with spring runners-up in 2008 and 2019.
He was often seen cycling around Churchill Downs’ stables in the morning to train.
The world of horse racing in shock over Miguel Mena’s death
Churchill Down’s president Mike Anderson called the news of Menas’ death “absolutely shocking, horrific and heartbreaking”.
Anderson expressed sympathy with the rider’s wife April and daughters Naelah and Montserrat along with other jockeys and friends.
“Our team is devastated to hear of Miguel’s passing,” Anderson said.
“He was such a brave rider who struggled to overcome numerous challenges and adversity. We will miss his bright smile.”
Mena sustained eight severely broken bones in her ankle and heel in a fall in March 2018 from a mountain on Fair Grounds.
He returned to the saddle in September and rode next month on Keeneland, a purposeful comeback that won the Randy Romero Pure Courage Award for overcoming adversity in February 2020.
The Peruvian native had won 49 of 516 mounts this year and earned $ 2,867,960.
“We lost a really good rider last night,” said Breeders’ Cup CEO Joe Harper before the draw for the World Championships began in Del Mar.
“He was a great guy and a great mentor to a lot of riders.”
Tributes have also poured in to Mena on social media.
with the Associated Press
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