Updated on 09/16/2011 6:44AM

Romero needs new kidney


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Former standout jockey Randy Romero is in dire need of a kidney transplant after experiencing a near shutdown of both kidneys. Romero, who since retiring in 1999 has worked as a jockey's agent, said Saturday from his Louisville home that his endocrinologist, Dr. Don Duff, is optimistic that one of Romero's four brothers "will be compatible" and able to donate one of his kidneys.

"This has been coming on for a long time, maybe eight years," said Romero, 45. "I've only got about eight percent use in both kidneys. The doctor said I'll have to have dialysis in a couple of weeks and maybe get the kidney in about four months."

Romero, a native of Abbeville, La., had been working in New Orleans for Marlon St. Julien and last week traveled to Oaklawn Park where St. Julien is now riding until his kidney problems became too burdensome. He returned to Louisville Friday night and now is resting at home with his wife, Cricket.

Romero, whose family was the subject of the 1978 movie "Casey's Shadow," had a fabulous career as a jockey, winning more than 4,300 races in some 25 years of competition. At various stages of his career, he rode regularly in Kentucky, New York, Florida, and elsewhere throughout the eastern half of the U.S. He won six races on a card on three occasions, at Keeneland, Churchill Downs, and Fair Grounds. He was involved in some of the most memorable races of all time, winning the 1988 Breeders' Cup Distaff aboard unbeaten Personal Ensign and being spilled from the ill-fated Go for Wand in the 1990 Distaff.

Romero attributed his kidney problems to injuries and struggles to make weight during his riding career. He underwent more than 20 operations and was treated with "some pretty strong drugs that probably have a lot to do with this. Plus I was pulling weight in the sweatbox, and [vomiting] all the time. Unfortunately, it's taken its toll."