Jockey Randy Romero, elected to racing's Hall of Fame in 2010, said last weekend he is hospice care but is at home in Lafayette, La., where a brother is staying with him and helping with his care.
“I'm very sick but I haven't given up,” he said by phone. Romero, 62, said doctors told him he is not strong enough to undergo the surgery necessary to remove tumors that were discovered in 2015. He said his pain is being managed and hospice is allowing him to undergo dialysis three times weekly at a facility close to his home, a procedure he has done for some 15 years.
A tainted blood transfusion following a bizarre 1983 Oaklawn Park reducing room accident that set him ablaze and burned over 60% of his body, gave him Hepatitis C which damaged his liver and kidneys. A few years later doctors removed a diseased kidney. For several years he hoped for a rare liver and kidney transplant that for various medical reasons never materialized.
He estimates he has broken 25 bones in racing accidents and had some 30 injury-related surgeries in a 26-year career that ended in 1999 with 4,294 victories and earnings of over $75 million.
Rarely suspended and known for getting the best from fillies and mares, he won back-to-back Breeders Cup Distaffs aboard Sacahuista in 1987 and got up in the final stride of the historic 1988 Distaff to win aboard Personal Ensign, allowing her to retire undefeated in 13 starts. He was the regular rider for 1989 2-year-filly champion Go For Wand. At three in the 1990 Distaff, she looked certain in deep stretch to hold off the older Bayakoa when she shattered her right front ankle and had to be euthanized. Romero broke seven ribs in the fall but rode another race on the day's card.
Romero's faith has remained strong and before he became too ill, regularly attended Mass with his mother, Joyce Romero. “I know God is going to be with me no matter what,” he said. “And I know prayers help.”
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