Ask any Delaware Park horse racing expert what so was special about April 18th, 1998 and their eyes will undoubtedly glaze over as they tell you that this was the day when the legend which is Ramon Dominguez rode his first winner at the track.
To witness Ramon in action really was something else, his almost magical ability to calm a highly strung thoroughbred when the pressure was on just had to be seen to be believed. It was as if he was at one with the horse and even someone who had absolutely no interest in this wonderful sport would be left spell bound by watching Ramon in action, it really was a pleasure.
Back in the day it was the highly accomplished jockey, Michael McCarthy, who was the darling of the Delaware Park racegoers, but in his own quiet and unassuming way it was Ramon with his famous ‘Calm Hands’ who became the jockey which every trainer knew they would have to book if the wanted the very best possible chance of success.
The last three Eclipse Awards were claimed by this remarkable man but just when it seemed that the nation had found a jockey who could only be described as a hero, tragedy struck in a race on January 18th when a fall caused Ramon serious head injuries which resulted in him announcing his retirement on June 13th.
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As a show of respect for the great man, September 14th was declared as the Ramon Dominguez Day and it would be fair to say that there wasn’t a dry eye at Delaware Park as Ramon was presented with a $10,000 donation to the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund.
As expected, it was such a special day with Ramon making time for everyone who wanted to talk to him and goodness knows how many autographs he ended up signing, but it is surely the mark of the man that he was happy to stop and talk to everyone, even though it was such a busy day for him.
Delaware Park betting will always be eternally grateful to the legend which is Ramon Dominguez and those wonderful memories will not be forgotten by those who are proud to say that they witnessed the great man gracing the sport that we all love.
In these days of high earning sports stars, it is not often someone touches the hearts of those who count themselves as privileged to have watched them perform. In the case of the world class jockey Ramon Dominguez though, this was a man who touched the hearts of so many….