Mena ‘A True Hero’ To Help Prevent Serious Equine Incident At Churchill

by | 05.14.2017 | 1:17pm
Jockey Miguel Mena

Jockey Miguel Mena displayed outstanding horsemanship and courage during Saturday's eighth race at Churchill Downs while helped aid loose rival Marine Pilot on the far turn of the 1 1/8-mile turf race.

Marine Pilot dropped his rider Geovanni Franco when he appeared to clip heels with another rival as horses exited the first turn and headed into the backstretch. As a result, the reins were dangling loose in front of Marine Pilot's front legs as he continued on rider-less in mid-pack.

“I could see the reins dangling beneath him,” jockey Brian Hernandez Jr., rider of ninth-place finisher Dattts Our Guy, said. “I told Miguel ‘Watch out for that horse. His reins are going everywhere.'”

Mena, who was rallying on the outside under Archangel Rose, rode up along the side of Marine Pilot at the three-eighths pole and, amazingly, flipped the reins back over Marine Pilot's head with his left hand to prevent the reins from getting tangled in the horse's legs.

“He was a true hero,” Kentucky Horse Racing Commission Chief Steward Barbara Borden said. “It was an amazing display of horsemanship done with the safety of the horses and his fellow riders in mind.”

“Luckily everything worked out,” said Mena, who went onto finish second beaten only three-quarters of a length by Star Cross. “My horse ran a very good second and if I didn't get the reins back on the loose horse, he could've tripped and fell.”

Marine Pilot was corralled after the race by Churchill Downs' outriders and returned safely to trainer John Ortiz's barn.

To view the full replay click here:

  • flahorsedentist

    Jockeys are among the most amazing athletes in the world. Kudos Miguel Mena.

    • Carin Reddig

      Most amazing athletes:
      1. Horses
      2. Jockeys
      3. Everybody else

  • John ortiz

    I’m am so grateful for Miguel stepping up the way he did. The situation could have been worse if it wasn’t for his actions. Horse is back in the barn safe and sound. Wishing Giovanni Franco a speedy recovery

    John Ortiz

    • greg

      Was this was just after he pushed Franco from the saddle?? LOL Awesome job sir

  • Rachel

    How apropos the horse he was riding was named “Archangel 🌹.”

  • Gina Rodriguez

    What a talented and conscientious jockey, good to see such horsemanship!

  • Richard C

    – Incredible –

  • Manefan

    Wow. I watched the replay a couple of times and still could not even see the point at which Miguel Mena flipped the reins, much less how the heck he could do such a magical thing and still come in second. Now THAT’S smooth.

  • Scott Ramnarine

    Would love to see that head on of this courageous act.

    • Longshot

      Watched it on Xpress Bet. You have to look quick as soon as the camera switches from the backside to the middle of the turn you can see him make a move but its hard to see the reins. Quick thinking

  • john

    LOVE Miguel Mena!!

  • Kathryn R Wilt

    Great mention of Miguel Mena’s horsemanship.

  • Kathryn R Wilt

    Celebrating Miguel Mena and his horsemanship..

  • Gail Christie

    You rock Miguel!

  • Delrene

    What a classy, courageous and conscientious person. Miguel Mena – a true horseman. Thankful Marine Pilot is safe in his barn and that Giovanni Franco a quick recovery. Jockeys are such superb athletes.

  • Gotchagold

    Great job Mr. Mena. I have only seen one horse step on his reins when he dumped his rider and it didn’t end well.. I’m sure it happens more than we fans see. Miguel was a true hero for sure.

  • affirmed

    Great feat Miguel Mena! normally in any Horse race where there is a loose horse running with the pack, that spells trouble at any moment in time, and then the Jockeys who are riding in that race , they try to avoid this Loose Horse, some try to race ride him, meaning they stand their path, and hope for the best, as contact could mean devastating.. Loose Horses like to run with the pack, or try to lead the pack, and there is where more dangers could result,as if they are Leading upfront while loose, then turning for home , without a rider, they tend to bolt to the outside!! as they cut off Horses, and create havoc! Miguel Mena seized the opportunity to grab the reins, and throw it over Marine Pilot’s head, thus preventing entanglement of the Horses feet! which would make him go down!! and the end was positive, the horse was not injured, and was returned safely to the Barn!! great act of bravery, and also looking out for fellow riders!! I send to you Miguel my appreciation, and there should be an award of excellence to you by the Kentucky Churchill Organization! exercising your skills, and bravely , while what you did if things had turned out where you fell, or anything disaster happened, then they would blame you, saying it’s all your fault! going out of your way, having no fear of the dangers that lies ahead, to save the Day!! , well you saved the Day, and more important, saved fellow Riders, and also saved the Life of a race Horse who knows!! when I visit Churchill I want to meet you,and or anytime time you ride on the Eastern Shores!

  • Ida Lee

    You have a man on top of a 1,000 lbs or more horse going at 40 miles an hour and oh, you/re guiding him and telling what to do

  • Judy Fraizer

    All I can say is, “WOW”.

  • n4zhg

    That should be a letter of commendation and $500 from the discretionary fund. How about it, Stewards?

  • Stephanie Clark

    What a guy, and to be successful in getting reins back over ans still running 2nd❤

  • Mimi Hunter

    I can’t get the link to work. I think he deserves a medal for doing that. The results could have been horrible.

  • Rosemary finelli

    Look of the Name of Horse his was on ArchAngelRose and Winner Star Cross. Pretty sure they. Were watching over those Horses. GOD BLESS and he knows

  • rockybudgeboa

    Just amazing. Thank you Miguel for doing this <3

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