03/04/2011 5:38PM

Injured jockey Coa gets $18,000 check from owner of Mucho Macho Man

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Barbara D. Livingston
Dean Reeves, the owner of Mucho Macho Man, gave jockey Eibar Coa (above) a check for what the rider would have earned in the Risen Star.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Dean Reeves, principal owner of Kentucky Derby hopeful Mucho Macho Man, presented injured jockey Eibar Coa a check for $18,000 Thursday night at Memorial East Regional Hospital in Hollywood, Fla. The sum is the equivalent to the winning rider’s share for Mucho Macho Man’s recent victory in the Grade 2 Risen Star at the Fair Grounds.

Coa, Mucho Macho Man’s regular jockey, was scheduled to ride the colt in the Risen Star. But he was unable to keep that engagement after fracturing the C4 vertebra in his neck in a spill that occurred shortly past the finish line of the sixth race at Gulfstream Park the day before the Risen Star.

Rajiv Maragh replaced Coa and rode Mucho Macho Man to victory in the Risen Star.

“I thought about doing this right after we won the Risen Star,” said Reeves, 59, the CEO of the Atlanta-based Reeves Contracting Co. “Eibar was still a part of the team and had done a lot of work setting the horse up to win a race like that. I spoke with my partners about paying him a share of the purse as if he was the jockey of record, and they agreed.”

Reeves owns Mucho Macho Man in partnership with the Dream Team Racing Stable.

Reeves, who was accompanied by Tim Ritvo, the wife of Mucho Macho Man’s trainer, Kathy Ritvo, and the vice president of racing at Gulfstream Park, said the scene in Coa’s hospital room was an emotional one on Thursday.

“When something like this happens, the first thing you think about is how are you going to be able to take care of your family financially,” Reeves said. “By giving Eibar the money, we felt it would be a lift for him in that regard as well as letting him know we still thought of him as part of the team and that he has all our support. Eibar had tears in his eyes when we presented him the check and Tim and I had watery eyes ourselves.”

Reeves said Coa, who has undergone two surgeries on his neck and two on his broken hand since the accident, was in good spirits and looking forward to being moved from his room into the rehabilitation center at the hospital within the next several days.

“He’s very positive, very determined, and has made a lot of good improvement even in the last week,” said Reeves. “He could pick up his left leg and move his right leg a little. I could see the muscle twitch and contract, which is a good sign. And his voice was much louder and his speed much improved since I saw him the other day. He said he was happy for Rajiv and really pulling for all of us in the Derby. It was a great moment in there, very encouraging.”

Presenting Coa with the $18,000 check was not the first magnanimous gesture by Reeves, who donated 80 mattresses to the grooms and hotwalkers whose rooms were destroyed when a section of the Gulfstream Park barn area was flooded in December of 2009.

“Dean is an extraordinary individual who doesn’t want to be recognized but needs to be recognized for his generosity,” said Ritvo.