12/07/2011 12:42PM

In celebration of Ramon Dominguez

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RAMON A. 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

Patricia Merry More than 1 year ago
Having Having just caught up with all of your wonderful blogs, I had to make an observation about this one. In the 2 photos of Ramon on Haynesfield - it is obvious that they are taking the opportunity to demonstrate the amazing ability of the Thoroughbred to achieve success in offtrack endeavors. In both instances, the pair are showing Haynesfield's remarkable agility in doing some high level, advanced dressage moves. In the first picture, they are obviously doing the Capriole and in the second, Ramon and Haynesfield are giving their version of the Levade. Airs above the ground, just before a race! Bravo!
Anne More than 1 year ago
Ramon is one in a million. He has kept himself out of the troubles that many jockeys find themselves involved by doing the job he was hired to do. Whether it be a claiming or stakes horses, Ramon rides them all with the same determination and expertise. How could anyone ever fault this man? I loved the second to last photo as it reminded me of the jockey photos from long ago where they sat stoic and proud only in color. The background was a perfect fit. Ramon must have all these photos framed and displayed in his house or houses. Fabulous job, as usual, Barbara.
Amelia More than 1 year ago
I think anyone by now should see Ramon as one of the greatest jockeys of his era. When I think of him it is on the far turn, where a large jock sits perched on a fast moving horse as they pass the 5/16 pole while gaining on the leaders with each and every stride. The team sweeps around the turn and there is Ramon high in the saddle urging and driving to the wire, while leaning out over the shoulders of his mount in perfect balance as they cross the wire. In front, yet again, and the race is won. Nothing succeeds like success and often the success becomes classic, as your photos so well show.
yuwipi More than 1 year ago
I was going to leave commenting on the beefcake calendar to the ladies of the blog, but I was so struck by the comment of Amelia that I had to put in a quick one. Her description of Ramon on the turn is exactly, right down to the smallest nuance, the mental image I had when thinking of when he first started to take an occasional mount in NY while still tacking at Delaware. He was a tad aggressive, which I liked, and with such a distinctive seat you never had any trouble picking him out. Been a total pleasure to watch him over the years. In the interests of full disclosure I did gnash my teeth during the Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf at Monmouth in 2007 when he decided to wait on Gio Ponti instead of sweeping out. Room came, but too late. That is not intended as a criticism. He is a blue chip jockey by any standards.
Clem More than 1 year ago
How do you do Miss Barbara, I really like how a photographer, like yourself, captures classic moments on the race track. As a race track goer, I can certainly see how that “beefcake” calendar could provide worthwhile in my further endeavors. Now a guy like myself doesn’t care if the calendar has “Man O’ War”, “Sovereign of the Seas”, or “The Battle of Gettysburg” over the current months dates. A calendar, in my mind, is all about the dates. And then it hit me. What better way to appease the lady in my life than with this calendar? Not home on February 26th? Oh yeah, that was Fountain of Youth Day – that guy looks good. Explain the absence on that first Saturday of March? Hmm, Gotham Day – Man-O-Man-O March!!! Catch the drift here. You may not be home, but the calendar removes the hurt and eases all pain 24/7. And Ramon is a fine jockey, if one thinks about it. It’s good that he hit the Big Time after dominating Delaware Park for so many years. Personally, I miss all those easy tickets, but nothing stays the same. Glad he moved forward and I suppose I should mention that you have become synonymous with horse racing. Any picture by BDL is a prized one. Thanks. >
Cora Cardone More than 1 year ago
Great action & still shots. And what a great idea to shoot at the historic Yaddo Gardens.
Robin More than 1 year ago
Ramon is a class act and incredible rider. This is a great article with amazing photos!! To the Spectator- How anyone can come on here and say a negative word about Ramon Dominguez is mind boggling. When are you riding next so I can critique your work?
EDDIE TIGER More than 1 year ago
I Would love to see the media and sports media and powers that be do a true well published documentry about horses and jockeys and the truly gifted poetic athletes that they are,,,,Ramon is on his way to the hall of fame and there are so many names that may never make it there,,,,,Riders that may not have handled or had there buissiness handled as well as others that have,,,,,The qualtys that make for a great and jockey and a hall of fame career are First and foremost A Top Agent and rideing for the winning stables consistantly,,,WITHOUT THIS You have nothingto work with,,,The Jockey themselves must have great hands a sense of pace and an uncanny ability to know instictivly where there at and where to be,,,a sixth sense to see things before they traspire,,and act instantly,,,being an athlete and haveing a great seat being in perfect rythem and being strong fearless and agressive all these a good personality and work ethic ad in to the mix,,,,,,They truly are pound for pound as good as any athletes around,,,and a wonderful thing to watch a good horse and top rider are poetry in motion
Bacarra More than 1 year ago
Hey Barbara, Another job well done! Ramon taught me so much as a race rider during morning works for Graham Motion. He is very shy and turns red at the drop of a hat! And no matter his success, Ramon remembers the names of every groom, hotwalker, exercise rider etc. I learned my patience, my rating a horse, and soft hands from Ramon Dominguez. What a great rider, a true horseman and man he is. And Barbara, you did a wonderful article again, as always. Many blessings to you and your work, Bacarra
Celeste More than 1 year ago
Thank you once again for creating another visually wonderful blog with such a great story to it! The shots of Ramon for the calendar are great as are the incredible moments captured in such action scenes as those scary stumbles! Wow! Thank you!! My heart was happy, too, to see that you included the photo of the beautiful Better Talk Now, one of the reasons I became a fan of Ramon's several years ago.