12/07/2011 12:42PM

In celebration of Ramon Dominguez



Birthdate:  November 24, 1976, in Caracas, Venezuela.  Height: 5'6". Weight: 112. Residences: Elmont, NY and Elkton, MD.Family:  Wife Sharon and sons Matthew and Alex.

Considering Ramon Dominguez’s shy, quiet style, you wouldn’t guess he’s a fiercely competitive world-class jockey.  And, considering his quiet ways, I didn’t expect him to be such a fantastic, natural model when posing for a jockey ‘beefcake’ calendar.  But, wowza, was I wrong!

Ramon, the 2010 Eclipse Award winning jockey who’s consistently near or atop the nation’s standings, is unusually intelligent, articulate and thoughtful – traits that help explain his dominance.  More importantly - at least as far as our shoot was concerned - he's also a darned good sport.   

Ramon not only brought a variety of shirts to the shoot (I guess he didn’t know I’d just say, “take it off!”) but, when the camera aimed his way, he was a true pin-up!  He knew how to pose, when to smile and when not, how to look intense for the camera.  While tourists milled about us in Yaddo Gardens on a warm afternoon, Ramon – his muscles chiseled like a Michelangelo sculpture – seemed he’d be as comfortable on a runway as a racetrack. 

I know, Ramon’s penetrating blue-grey eyes didn’t show so well in a full-body portrait.  But it's worth the tradeoff, for a change, to get a look at his remarkable abs! 

Above:  Ramon aboard the very lively Haynesfield.  They partnered to win several stakes, such as the Jockey Club Gold Cup and Suburban.

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As Ramon and his wife Sharon sat in an airport recently, awaiting a flight to Japan, they took time to answer a few questions via e-mail.  As Ramon gave the answers, Sharon typed them out.

What kind of car does Ramon drive?

Ramon drives a 2006 Honda Civic - totally 'Plain Jane.'  If he could have gotten roll-down windows, he would have!  Before that, he had a '93 Accord for 13 years and, believe me, it was hard for him to let it go - even though he knew he needed to.

Ramon's favorite book?

A New Earth, by Eckart Tolle

Does your family have any pets?

We had two dogs, Lucy and Roxy.  Roxy died this past May so, now, we just have Lucy.

Lucy's story is interesting.  In 2000, Lily Klesaris found her tied to the fence at Belmont and she gave her a home.  Shortly afterward, however, Lily broke her ankle in the starting gate.  She gave Lucy to Amy and Bruce Jackson, so they could find her a home.  Although we lived in Maryland at the time, we ended up with her.  Lucky us!  We joke now because here we and Lucy are nowadays, living right near Belmont.

We also have several cats on the farm in Maryland as well as my old Quarter Horse, Tank, who's now 22.  Ramon would love to have all kinds of animals: chickens, goats, cows, pigs, sheep - you name it.

Ramon's favorite racetrack(s)?

Saratoga and Keeneland

If he hadn't become a jockey, what profession would Ramon have enjoyed?

He would have loved to be a vet.

Ramon's favorite music/song?

He likes a variety of music.  Dave Matthews Band is one of, if not his favorite, band, and he loves their song Number Forty One.  He also likes bluegrass music.

Favorite food?  

He loves Asian Food.  He's fascinated with that part of the world and its culture. 

Ramon always dresses so nicely in public.  How does he dress at night, or on days off, at home?

On his days off or in the evenings, he literally grabs whatever's around and puts it on.  There is literally no thought about it - the colors and patterns don't matter.  And it doesn't bother him one bit.

What does Ramon like to do on his days off?

We do family things.  Ramon spends a lot of time with the kids (two young sons, Matthew and Alex).  They play with Legos, build kites from scratch, ride bikes, draw... Oh, and we are all addicted to Angry Birds.

Ramon's favorite movie?

Planet Earth.

Ramon's favorite new gadget?

He got an iPhone last month (before that, he had a flip phone).  Now, he can't put it down.  He's addicted to chess.

Above and below:  Outtakes from the 2012 jockey calendar. 

Above:  Ramon in a much more familiar role - fully clothed in silks.

Above:  One of Ramon's favorite races - Better Talk Now winning the 2004 Breeders' Cup Turf at Lone Star Park.  Trainer Graham Motion has believed in Ramon's talents for many years.

Above and below:  Boys at Tosconova and Ramon Dominguez win the 2010 Hopeful Stakes.

Above:  Boys at Tosconova and Ramon during a Saratoga workout.

Above:  According to the Jockeys' Guild website, Ramon Dominguez is the 2011 earnings leader thus far with $19,364,256 (as of 12/4/11). John Velazquez, with earnings of over $18 million, is in second.

Above:  Ramon and Musket Man.

Above:  Ramon in a familiar spot - the winner's circle.  In March 2010 he earned his 4,000th victory.  He has ridden five winners in a day on several occasions and, on June 5, 2011, at Belmont Park, he won six.

Above:  Ramon and First Dude.

Above and below:  Among Ramon's Grade I winning partners in 2010 were champion Gio Ponti (above) and Check the Label (below).

Above and below:  Ramon aboard rodeo candidate Haynesfield.

Above and below:  Blechhhh...!  Ramon nearly takes a header aboard Disposablepleasure.

Above and below:  Ramon and Stacelita, 2011 Flower Bowl (G1) victory.

Above:  Ramon has been the leading rider at most of the NYRA meets since the 2008-09 Aqueduct season.  Before moving his tack to New York, he led the Delaware Park standings from 2004-2007.  He was a mainstay in the Midatlantic region for years, and twice - 2001 and 2003 - Ramon led the nation in number of victories.

Above:  Ramon takes multiple G1 winner Get Stormy for a spin.

Above and below:  Ramon and Hansen, 2011 Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

Above and below:  Aboard Havre de Grace, a forerunner for 2011 Horse of the Year.

PS  It's common to hear the NYRA announcer say things like, "That was Ramon's third winner of the day," or "That makes four for Ramon Dominguez!"  Within five minutes of my posting this blog, John Imbriale announced the winner of the second race at Aqueduct.  The announcement included, ..."the winner was ridden by Ramon Dominguez."   That win just prompted DRF's Dave Grening to tweet:  Ramon wins w first ride of IT (inner track) meet, giving Day of Destiny ($6.60) a perfect trip.  How fast will he make up the 11 wins he spotted Alvarado?

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Ramon Dominguez's official website:  http://www.ramondominguez.com

For more information about the 2012 jockey calendar: http://store.drf.com/acb/stores/1/THOROUGHBRED_RACING_JOCKEYS_20_P20429C1028.cfm?UserID=56456537&ACBSessionID=424908585596ED4AB6E5