Hall Of Fame Jockey Randy Romero, Rider For Personal Ensign, Dies At 61

by | 08.29.2019 | 11:46am
Randy Romero

After a decades-long battle with health issues, Hall of Fame jockey Randy Romero, known for riding Go for Wand and the unbeaten Personal Ensign among others, has passed away at the age of 61 in his native Louisiana. He was surrounded by family members while under hospice care in Lafayette, La.

“He is the toughest man I've ever seen in my life,” his brother Gerald Romero told the Blood-Horse. “Believe me, for all he's been through, he's in a better place.”

Another brother, Edward Romero, became live-in caregiver after Randy became ill. He said several of Randy's Cajun jockey friends including Mark Guidry and fellow Hall of Famer Eddie Delahoussaye had visited the day before. All of Romero's brothers, their wives, and their mother Joyce was with Randy Romero when he died.

“He fought so hard and so long and it took him a long time to find peace,” said Edward. “But in the end he died in peace and had a peaceful look on his face. We're all sad, but we didn't want to see him suffer any longer and we know he is in a better place.”

Romero's health problems started in 1983, when he was badly burned in a sauna explosion at Oaklawn Park. Blood transfusions helped keep him alive but one of the transfusions was tainted with hepatitis C, which damaged his liver. Years later, while hoping for a liver and kidney transplant, he developed stomach cancer that doctors deemed inoperable because of his other health issues. Doctors decided he was not likely to survive lengthy transplant surgery and underwent dialysis three times weekly for some 15 years. 

Born in Erath, La., Romero began his riding career in 1973. Until his retirement in 1999, he won 4,294 races from 26,091 mounts (16.4 percent) for total earnings of $75,264,198. He won 342 stakes and riding titles at 10 different tracks.

Romero once won five races in a row at Keeneland and captured four stakes on one card at Gulfstream Park. Among his major victories, he won back-to-back Breeders' Cup Distaffs in 1987 and 1988 with Sacahuista and Personal Ensign, respectively. The following year, he was aboard Go for Wand when she won the Juvenile Fillies. Romero rode Personal Ensign to 12 of her 13 wins in an undefeated career.

Romero found the winner's circle in many other graded stakes and sat atop other well known runners, including Risen Star, Housebuster, Seeking the Gold, Hansel and Java Gold.

Romero was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 2010.

Randy was one of the Hall of Fame members who attended the 2018 Jockeys and Jeans Fundraiser for the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund at Canterbury Park in 2018 took the time to speak personally with the six permanently disabled jockeys who attended.

“Randy ignored his own health issues, got on a plane and attended even though he had to find a place and undergo dialysis while he was there,” said Eddie Donnally a longtime friend and VP of Jockeys and Jeans. “He took the time to talk with each of the six permanently disabled riders there to be honored. Randy was as kind as he was brave.

Catholic Mass funeral service will be at 1 p.m. CT on Tuesday, Sept. 10, at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, 700 S Broadway Street, Erath, LA 70533.  The family requested all donations be made in his name to the Pemanently Disabled Jockeys Fund www.pdjf.org.

Tributes from around the racing world.

 

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