Setback Jeopardizes Hall Of Fame Jockey Romero’s Chances For Organ Transplants

by | 07.09.2017 | 10:48pm

Paulick Report

Hall of Fame jockey Randy Romero

A new health condition has caused Hall of Fame Jockey Randy Romero to be removed from the list of recipients for a transplanted kidney and liver, something he likely needs to sustain his life for a long period of time.

The new health condition started during his trip to the June 10 Belmont Stakes as a celebrity jockey  guest. Romero, 59, is one of the rare persons who has undergone dialysis three times weekly for over 12 years. Besides being particularly tiring, it requires a port placed under the skin, in his case on an arm, so he doesn’t need a thick needle stick for every session. The port ruptured while in New York and he wound up in a Garden City hospital Emergency Room. Doctors stemmed the bleeding, stitched and bandaged the arm, and he otherwise said he had a good time.

But during his drive back from the airport to the home of his brother, John Romero, in Lafayette, La., he hit another auto from the rear, totaling his car. With no one injured, he made it to John’s home and was upstairs in his room awaiting dinner and napping. The port ruptured, this time so violently he bled out and became unconscious.

“My mom (Joyce) came to get me for dinner and found me in a pool of blood,” he said. “She saved my life. I wound up in Intensive Care and my blood pressure was like 40 over 20. I nearly bled to death. They had to give me four liters of blood.”

Romero was placed on a ventilator to assist his breathing and was unconscious and in critical condition for over a week. The ventilator was successfully removed but he was hospitalized until early last week.



During a career that included 4,294 victories and purse earnings of over $75 million, Romero broke over 20 bones, suffered third degree burns over 40 percent of his body in a bizarre “hot box” fire, developed Hepatitis C from tainted blood transfusions following the accident, has one kidney and has undergone over 30 surgeries. But the latest injury may be the most serious because he will have to get strong enough to get back on the donor list.

“I’ve been through a lot,” he said. “But I still believe in God and I’m not giving up. I believe in prayer and I know a lot of people out there are praying for me. “

Desormeaux Splits With Pegram, Hires Nelson Arroyo As New Agent

Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux has parted ways with agent J.R. Pegram and teamed up with agent Nelson Arroyo, it was announced Monday. Desormeaux, who has been represented by Pegram since March 2016, was also previously represented by the agent in 2012 and 2013 while riding in New York.

“I’ve worked with Pegram a few times over the years and he’s done a good job for me,” Desormeaux said. “We have different views on managing my future, and as a result I thought it best to part ways. Nelson has done a great job as an agent and I am looking forward to him carrying my book.”

Desormeaux, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2004, is ranked sixth all-time in jockey earnings with $272,913,629, and has 5,856 wins from over 30,000 career starts. He has won seven Triple Crown races, including three Kentucky Derbies, three Preakness Stakes and the Belmont once.

After a second-place finish in last year’s Kentucky Derby aboard the Keith Desormeaux-trained Exaggerator, the pair went on to capture the Preakness Stakes, finishing 4 1/2 lengths ahead of Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist. He went on to pilot the colt to victory in the $1 million Haskell Invitational last July.

“Before I became a jockey my father encouraged me to watch and learn from Cordero, Pincay, Velazquez and Desormeaux,” Arroyo said. “I never imagined I’d be representing a Hall of Fame jockey and to be representing Kent, along with my brother Norberto, in Southern California is a dream come true.”

Desormeaux is currently riding at the Santa Anita Park meeting where he is fifth in the jockey standings. He rode three winners on the card there Sunday, including the Fran’s Valentine Stakes aboard Moonless Sky.

Hernandez Rides Four Winners At Churchill

by | 05.14.2017

Brian Hernandez Jr. won four races for four different trainers on Saturday’s card (5-13-17) at Churchill Downs, starting with the early double aboard Tarpy’s Surprise ($8) for Dale Romans in Race 1 and Miss Cobblestone ($15.60) for Bernie Flint in Race 2. He entered the winner’s enclosure once again for Ian Wilkes with Fifth Title ($12.60) in Race 5, then gave trainer Tim Glyshaw his 400th career victory in Race 7 with Louies Flower ($12.40).

Hernandez has now brought his victory total to 11 through the first nine days of the 38-day Spring Meet.

“It was a great day,” Hernandez said. “It’s always fun to get on a roll like that. Hopefully we can keep the streak going.”


Final Jockey Assignments Confirmed In 2017 Run For The Roses: Includes Three Louisiana Natives

by | 04.30.2017 | 3:05pm

Always Dreaming works under the Twin Spires with John Velazquez aboard.

The last of the Kentucky Derby riding assignments was confirmed on Sunday morning, and the current field of 20 is all booked up for Saturday’s Run for the Roses. The most recent addition is that of jockey Channing Hill aboard Fast and Accurate for trainer Mike Maker; Hill breezed the colt at Churchill Downs on Sunday morning, then announced the decision later in the morning on Twitter.

Tyler Gaffalione will be aboard the Todd Pletcher-trained Patch for Calumet Farm, it was also announced on Twitter Sunday morning. Pletcher’s other riders were announced over the past few weeks, with John Velazquez scheduled to team with Always Dreaming and Jose Ortiz to pilot Tapwrit.

Trainer Steve Asmussen confirmed his final Derby reinsmen on Saturday, naming Ricardo Santana to ride Untrapped and Corey Lanerie to ride Lookin at Lee. Florent Geroux had previously been named to ride Hence.

Late last week, trainer Dale Romans named Luis Saez as the replacement rider for the injured Robby Albarado aboard J Boys Echo.


Here is the full list of expected Kentucky Derby contenders and their riders, as of Sunday afternoon:

  • Always Dreaming (John Velazquez)
  • Battle of Midway (Flavien Prat)
  • Classic Empire (Julien Leparoux)
  • Fast and Accurate (Channing Hill)
  • Girvin (Mike Smith)
  • Gormley (Victor Espinoza)
  • Gunnevera (Javier Castellano)
  • Hence (Florent Geroux)
  • Irap (Mario Gutierrez)
  • Irish War Cry (Rajiv Maragh)
  • J Boys Echo (Luis Saez)
  • Lookin At Lee (Corey Lanerie)
  • McCraken (Brian Hernandez Jr.)
  • Patch (Tyler Gaffalione)
  • Practical Joke (Joel Rosario)
  • Sonneteer (Kent Desormeaux)
  • State of Honor (Jose Lezcano)
  • Tapwrit (Jose Ortiz)
  • Thunder Snow (Ire) (Christophe Soumillon)
  • Untrapped (Ricardo Santana Jr.).

Next up in order of preference: Royal Mo (Gary Stevens)

Albarado Fractures Lower Leg, Off J Boys Echo in Derby

Albarado Fractures Lower Leg, Off J Boys Echo in Derby
Photo: Coady Photgraphy

Robby Albarado

Jockey Robby Albarado sustained a fracture of his lower left tibia and fibula after falling from Chiltern Street at the beginning of the eighth race at Keeneland April 23 and will be off mounts for approximately three to four weeks, including Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1) hopeful J Boys Echo, agent Rob Ebanks said.

The 5-year-old horse stumbled at the start of the 5 1/2-furlong race on turf unseating Albarado, who was immdiately attended to on the track. After being taken to first aid at Keeneland, he was then transported to UK Chandler Hospital.

In an official statement, Keeneland medical director Dr. Barry Schumer said: “Robby’s horse stumbled at the start of the race and Robby was thrown to the ground. He braced himself. He suffered an injury to his left ankle. He is being transported to UK Chandler Hospital (at the University of Kentucky in Lexington) for X-rays and further evaluation.”

Albarado underwent surgery April 24 at UK Chandler Hospital and had a rod and two pins inserted in his lower left leg, per Ebanks.


Louisiana Native Hernandez Opts To Stick With McCraken in the Kentucky Derby


Jockey Brian Hernandez, Jr. is the regular rider for a pair of 3-year-old colts with enough points to enter the Kentucky Derby starting gate, and knew he would have to choose which to ride if both came through their final prep races without issue. According to, Hernandez ultimately made the decision to stick with the Ian Wilkes-trained McCraken, despite the son of Ghostzapper’s third-place finish in the G2 Blue Grass Stakes.

“It was a really, really tough decision because both trainers and owners have been extremely loyal to me throughout the year,” Hernandez told The Courier-Journal. “It was one of those decisions that took a whole lot of time and a whole lot of talking with my agent. And we went with McCraken.”

That left Girvin, winner of both the Risen Star and the Louisiana Derby, without a rider for the first Saturday in May. Despite several light-hearted rumors that trainer Joe Sharp’s wife, the famed female jockey Rosie Napravnik, might come out of retirement to ride the son of Tale of Ekati, the mount will go to Hall of Famer Mike Smith (Napravnik intends to stay retired, according to her Twitter account).


Both McCraken and Girvin have only lost once in their respective careers, but McCraken is more likely to be one of the top choices for the Derby because of relatively slow finish times in Girvin’s Fair Grounds efforts. Take nothing away from Girvin: the lightly-raced colt has done nothing wrong and just keeps improving with each start.

That said, McCraken’s third-place effort in the Blue Grass may have some fans questioning their belief in the previously undefeated star. Based on Wilkes’ record, including derby winners Unbridled and Street Sense (during which time he served as assistant to trainer Carl Nafzger) and Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Fort Larned, a sub-par effort prior to the big dance is nothing to be concerned about. Both Unbridled and Street Sense lost in the Blue Grass before winning the Derby, and Fort Larned finished third in the Jockey Club Gold Cup before winning the Classic.

Shaun Bridgmohan Lands Career Win 3,000

Jockey Shaun Bridgmohan joined an elite group on Saturday, April 1st, at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots. The 37-year-old Spanish Town, Jamaica, native earned his 3,000th victory when   guiding Allied Racing Stable’s Brad Cox-trained Inveniam Viam to victory in the day’s first race.

Bridgmohan earned his first win in August of 1997 at Calder Race Course and has ridden the likes of Grade I horses PyroNoble BirdRoom ServiceJ. B.’s ThunderMajesticperfectionKodiak KowboyPeeping TomBrutally FrankEvening AttireAlexander TangoVolponiMidnight LuteGiant Oak,Appealing Zophieand Student Council. Bridgmohan has won 93 graded stakes, including 16 at the Grade I level

In 1998, Bridgmohan won the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Apprentice Jockey and in 2014 was second in the Kentucky Derby with Commanding Curve, while also placing in Breeders’ Cup race four times. In his career he boasts just above a 15% strike rate, while finishing in the money 42% of the time, with career earnings approaching $126 million.

“This one feels really good,” Bridgmohan said. “Especially to do it for a trainer I’ve had a really great meet with. To get to that point means a lot. The day started off good and hopefully it carries through.”

Louisiana Natives Albarado, Perret Among Finalists for National Museum of Racing’s 2017 Hall of Fame

Five jockeys, three trainers, and three racehorses comprise 11 finalists on the National Museum of Racing’s 2017 Hall of Fame ballot, as selected by the Museum’s Hall of Fame Nominating Committee.

The finalists are jockeys Robby Albarado, Javier Castellano, Victor Espinoza, Garrett Gomez, and Craig Perret; trainers Mark Casse, John Shirreffs, and David Whiteley; and racehorses Gio Ponti  Goldikova, and Kona Gold.

Albarado, Castellano, Casse, Shirreffs, Gio Ponti, and Goldikova are first-time finalists.

Hall of Fame voters may select as many candidates as they believe worthy of induction to the Hall of Fame. A maximum of four candidates with the highest vote totals—provided they receive majority approval (50.1%) of the voting panel—will be elected to the Hall of Fame. The results of the voting on contemporary candidates will be announced April 24.

The induction ceremony will be at the Fasig-Tipton Sales Pavilion in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., Aug. 4 at 10:30 a.m. This year’s ceremony will be open to the public and is free to attend.

Lafayette native Robby Albarado, 43, began riding at the age of 10 and progressed to riding at bush tracks  by the age of 12. After turning professional, he earned his first official win at Evangeline Downsin 1990. He has won 5,026 races to date with purse earnings of more than $206 million in a career that began in 1990. The regular rider of two-time Horse of the Year and Hall of Fame inductee Curlin  , as well as Horse of the Year Mineshaft  , Albarado has won 202 graded stakes in his career, including three Breeders’ Cup races and the 2007 Preakness Stakes (G1).

Craig Perret, 66, who was born in New Orleans, began riding horses at age five and by seven was riding quarter horses in match races. At age fifteen he began his career in thoroughbred racing and in 1967 was the leading apprentice jockey in the United States in terms of money won. He  has won 4,415 races with purse earnings of more than $113 million in a career that spanned from 1967-05. The Eclipse Award winner for outstanding jockey in 1990, Perret won the Belmont Stakes (G1) in 1987 with Bet Twice by 14 lengths, denying Alysheba the Triple Crown. Three years later, Perret won the Kentucky Derby with Unbridled. He won four Breeders’ Cup races and totaled 208 graded stakes wins.

Chaired by Edward L. Bowen, the Hall of Fame Nominating Committee is comprised of Bowen, Cot Campbell, Tim Capps, Steven Crist, Tracy Gantz-White, Teresa Genaro, Jane Goldstein, Steve Haskin, Jay Hovdey, Tom Law, Leverett Miller, Neil Milbert, Bill Nack, Jay Privman, John Sparkman, and John von Stade.

The finalists were selected by the Hall of Fame’s nominating committee from a total of 86 initial candidates suggested by turf journalists, Thoroughbred industry participants, and racing fans.

To be eligible, trainers must have been licensed for 25 years, while jockeys must have been licensed for 20 years. Thoroughbreds are required to be retired for five calendar years before becoming eligible. All candidates must have been active within the past 25 years. The 20- and 25-year requirements for jockeys and trainers, respectively, may be waived, at the discretion of the Museum’s Executive Committee. Candidates not active within the past 25 years are eligible through the Historic Review process.

Former Jockey Larry Melancon Suffers Stroke While Vacationing In North Carolina

Larry Melancon piloted Off Duty to victory in the G3 Phoenix Stakes in 2007
Larry Melancon piloted Off Duty to victory in the G3 Phoenix Stakes in 2007

Former jockey Larry Melancon remains hospitalized in North Carolina after suffering a stroke on March 3 while vacationing with his wife.

The Daily Racing Form reports that Melancon, 61, was airlifted to Mission Neurology Hospital in Asheville on Friday. He had begun showing symptoms of a stroke that morning at the hotel where he was staying with his wife, Denise. Doctors put Melancon in an induced coma after he underwent a six-hour surgery on Saturday.

Melancon retired from riding in 2010, after a successful career that spanned close to 40 years. During his career, Melancon won over 2,800 races and his mounts accrued over $60 million in earnings. Since his retirement, Melancon remained active in racing, working for trainer Al Stall Jr. for a few years. He then briefly represented Calvin Borel as his jockey agent.

Go Fund Me page has been set up to help with medical expenses, and to help transport Melancon back to Louisville.

Read more in the Daily Racing Form, and click here to donate

Broussard Balances Riding and Motherhood

Broussard Balances Riding and Motherhood
Photo: Marshall Blevins

Jockey Ashley Broussard’s mounts have won more than $5 million in purses

They’re up there in the dense fog. Circling. You can hear them, but you can’t see them. It’s a long migration from Canada to the rice fields of Rayne, La., but geese don’t rely on GPS.

Inside her modest kitchen, jockey Ashley Broussard is fixing breakfast for her 2-year-old son Bentley while going over a mental checklist for the day: exercise two horses at the Evangeline Downs Training Center, need talcum powder, check the oil in the car, take down the Christmas tree, out of cough medicine, call Mom, clothes in the dryer, macaroni and cheese for Bentley, leave a note for Uncle Cliff the baby sitter, ride five horses tonight at Delta Downs.

It’s not easy being a single parent, but like the geese, Broussard knows where she is going and how to get there.

The challenges of being a mother and maintaining her riding career have proved a steep climb full of surprises.

“In the beginning it was sleep deprivation,” Broussard admitted. “Having to wake up every three or four hours was a mental stress that was hard to overcome. My brain was totally consumed with different issues. I have always been around kids, but putting in a car seat was a new experience. I used to be in the gym all the time before I had Bentley, but now there is not a lot of time to go and lift weights.”

Broussard tipped the scales at 138 pounds during her pregnancy. She now weighs a fit 101.

“Chasing Bentley around keeps me in shape,” Broussard said with a laugh. “The everyday routine of working horses and riding puts you into a level of fitness. You have to have a strong core as well as back and legs. All of that translates into your arms, wrists, and shoulders so when you get on a really tough horse you find out what you got.”

The sharp turning, balance, and maneuverability against the clock of barrel racing contributed to Broussard’s skill as a jockey. The rodeo sport also revealed her tenacious urge to compete. As a teenager, she was ranked first in Louisiana for multiple years and was fifth in the world on two occasions.

Broussard was also raised with horse knowledge. Her father was a match-race jockey on the local bush tracks and became a longtime assistant to trainer Gene Norman. With a cowboy reputation of being able to handle the toughest horses, Clarence Broussard kept his daughter away from the racetrack but close to the farm and breaking babies.

“The animals are not strangers to me,” the 24-year-old Broussard said. “I’ve learned that every horse has its own personality and character. The trick is to persuade them to do things without being forceful or making them do it. When you treat them with kindness, it’s amazing how much smarter they are than humans.”

The gift of an exercise saddle from one of her father’s clients stimulated the dream of Broussard (then 16) to become a jockey. She sat down with her parents and told them she wanted to be a jockey, with a plan and the patience to carry it out. At 18, she got a job at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots with trainer Steve Asmussen. Then, in the spring of 2013, Asmussen needed an exercise rider at Keeneland, and he needed one immediately. It was time to put up or shut up.

“I still had a lot to learn, but it was time to take a jump,” Broussard said of her decision to pack her bags. “I figured I might not ever get another chance to work for a Hall of Fame trainer. I’ve never been one to do things half-assed. If I am going to do something, I want to go all the way, so I took a deep breath and took off.”

Far from home for the first time, Broussard stayed in a cheap hotel on the interstate and went to the track early each morning. She “manned up” and there was no relief. Some days she was legged up on a dozen horses. Her next milestone was a move to Churchill Downs to get serious about becoming a jockey. She secured a salaried position with trainer Kellyn Gorder, received gate approval from the stewards, and was given her jockey license. She won her first race at Ellis Park in August 2013. She had been galloping horses for more than three years.

“A lot of people nowadays that have never been around a racetrack decide one day that they want to be a jockey,” Broussard said. “Three weeks later they are in a race somewhere. I’m not sorry or apologizing for taking so long. I wanted to learn everything from the ground up.”

The 2014 fall/winter meet at Fair Grounds landed Broussard in the same jock’s room as the meet’s leading rider, Rosie Napravnik, who drilled Broussard like it was basic training for the Navy SEALS. Her learning curve shot through the roof, and Broussard went on to become the meet’s leading apprentice rider.

“First of all, she looked good on a horse,” Napravnik remembered. “Ashley is smart and level-headed, and she somehow manages to listen to the right people that can help. You can preach, preach, preach to some young riders, but Ashley listened and then went out on the racetrack and applied what she learned.”

Broussard’s sacrifice has paid off. Despite the detours of child birth and an accident (broken collarbone and busted ribs) that kept her away three months, her mounts have won more than $5 million in purses. Her 130 wins in 2016 ranked 110th of the jockeys’ list in North America. The multiple stakes-winning rider is currently second in the standings at Delta Downs. She has had too many riding triples at Evangeline Downs to count. She won honors as the Jockey’s Guild’s Jockey of the Week after winning six consecutive races for five different trainers last Dec. 14 at Delta Downs. Two weeks prior to that performance, Broussard booted home five winners on a single card at Delta.

Wherever Broussard’s internal compass tells her to go, she has the markings of a bright future, and son Bentley will be right there with her.

“I just want him to stay healthy and follow his dreams,” Broussard said. “My parents never pushed me in any certain direction. They let me find my own path and just made sure I was safe along the way. I do want him to see that nothing happens in one day. That you have to work for what you want. Horse racing has offered me many life lessons, and if that is the path he loves, then I will be right there to follow him.”

This story first appeared in the Feb. 18 edition of BloodHorse Magazine. To purchase a copy including the full version, visit