Rajiv Maragh — who returned to riding at racing's top level mere weeks after being sidelined for 15 months with career-threatening injuries — is the recipient of JockeyTalk360.com's third annual Comeback Jockey of the Year Award, presented by Horsemen's Track and Equipment.
Horsemen's Track and Equipment president Randy Bloch will present the 32-year-old Maragh the award during the Jockeys' Guild Assembly luncheon Tuesday, Dec. 12, at Las Vegas' MGM Grand. The JockeyTalk360 awards are in addition to the honors handed out at the luncheon by the Jockeys' Guild.
Maragh said he thought he was “going to die” when his mount in Belmont Park's fifth race on July 10, 2015, landed on the jockey after clipping heels and falling. The jockey sustained eight broken vertebrae, a collapsed lung and broken ribs that left him bed-ridden for weeks and in a body brace for nine months.
“I was in a bad physical and mental state for a long time,” Maragh told The (Louisville) Courier-Journal last spring. “It was frustrating. All that time, all I can really remember is pain — pain and suffering. That's all I could remember for a year.
“I had to rethink and reflect on everything in my life and see where I'm at and what I want …. When I thought about everything, all roads led back to me being a jockey. I want to do what makes me happy and what I love to do, which is riding horses and racing horses. That's what drove me.”
Maragh resumed riding in November, 2016. The Jamaican native has won more than 100 races and purses approaching $7.3 million since his return, including taking the Grade 1 Wood Memorial and finishing second in the Belmont Stakes on Irish War Cry and winning Saratoga's Grade 1 Ballerina aboard By the Moon.
“Rajiv embodies everything this award is meant to honor, including courage and the perseverance to overcome adversity,” said C.J. Johnsen, publisher of JockeyTalk360.com. “He has combined his riding skill and passion for horse racing to tackle the challenges of coming back from devastating injuries to again perform at the top of the game.”
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