08/04/2013 5:57PM

Saratoga: Dominguez trying to adjust to life without racing

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Jockey Ramon Dominguez is struggling to come to terms with the fact that his riding career is over, and he has not given much thought about what he will do in the future.

“Right now, I’m still in recovery mode and just taking it one day at a time,” Dominguez said Sunday in an interview with the former jockey Richard Migliore that was posted on the website of the New York Racing Association. “It has been a challenging process, to say the least. I have so many great memories and experiences along the way. I often think about them while staying optimistic about the future.”

Asked by Migliore if the future could include a comeback, Dominguez said, “My passion for the sport will never change – that alone gives you hope. But then the facts happen to get in the way.”

The facts are that Dominguez suffered a severe brain injury in a spill at Aqueduct on Jan. 18. Though he underwent extensive therapy, doctors told Dominguez in the spring that they couldn’t guarantee he would not do further damage were he to be involved in another spill. Dominguez announced his retirement in a press release June 13.

“It’s something the doctors feel is in my best interests given the type of injuries I have sustained,” Dominguez told Migliore.

Sunday’s 13-minute interview was the first Dominguez has given since he announced his retirement. He did not speak with other members of the press Sunday while he was in Saratoga.

Dominguez said he feels well physically, but that “every day, I have to deal with a different obstacle to overcome, just mentally … emotionally I guess is the word. Otherwise, I’m just happy to be here at the track, especially being my first trip this year.”

Last year, Dominguez set a single-meet record for wins by a rider with 68, and he twice won six races on a card. He also won the Saratoga riding title in 2009.

Dominguez, 36, spends most days with his wife, Sharon, and their two children, Alexander and Matthew, in their Long Island, N.Y., home. While he checks the race results, Dominguez said he rarely watches races on television.

“I’m just not ready for that yet,” Dominguez said.

Dominguez was at Saratoga on Sunday, when he, Migliore, Jose Santos, and Angel Cordero Jr. held an autograph session. The proceeds went to the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund.

“I always have, as most jockeys, been supportive of the PDJF and thought I understood the importance of it,” Dominguez said. “Now, I’m more aware of how the PDJF really helps guys and girls who really need them. I feel like really we all should do a little more to contribute to their cause.”

Keary Sibille More than 1 year ago
I was friends with Ramon when he rode at Calder class act no doubt. But if he wants to train which no lifelong race tracker would advise he should go work for Todd or Shug for a while total different world under horses than on top of them. My Dad rode 30 years great rider he has trained the last few years and doesn't have a clue how to train. I've worked for trainers like Bob Hess, Frank Brothers and Baffert since I was 16 I'm 39 now and learn something every day about a horse. Show me a jock who can run vet wrap
Keary Sibille More than 1 year ago
Jockeys CAN'T train PERIOD!! Anyone who says that is not a race tracker
Max M More than 1 year ago
This guy will be an awesome trainer. I am sure he will be very successful at that too.
StockPicker More than 1 year ago
RD we will miss. Best of Luck
Sally Joiner More than 1 year ago
I agree with Thomas Cook. You were an extraordinary rider, understood the horses and the trainers, and a gentleman at all times. You can pass this legacy on to another, and in that way, you will not only be helping someone else, you will continue to "ride". You have an amazing talent and it would be a shame not to teach someone that same talent along with the knowledge. I pray for you daily and will continue to do so. God has plans for you...I'm certain of that!
Steven More than 1 year ago
What a great rider. I made up for all my losses at Del Mar with his great summer at Saratoga last year. He is missed ....
Will More than 1 year ago
LOL, I made up for Dominguez at Del Mar. I never liked him as a rider but I can't say anything bad about the person.
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
Every great rider, horseman, and competitor wants a protégés to pass the torch to. Someone to continue their legacy. Pass on your knowledge Ramon. Mentor a young rider who has your drive, class, and potential. Best of luck.
zerosumzen More than 1 year ago
Still holding out hope he may one day return. Peter Czech, the Chelsea goalie, had a serious head injury that almost cost him his life. (check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petr_%C4%8Cech). He would return to the field with a special head contraption. I understand that a kick in the head from a horse is more dramatic than a kick by a soccer player, but I can't help wondering: if horse racing was as big as soccer, wouldn't there be greater technological advances with regards to the jockey's headwear? A layer of special shock-arbsorbent gel inside the hat, for instance. Just thinking out loud. A jockey just died in Australia after being kicked in the head by oncoming horses. I would seem to me that the need for better head protection is very real, but I haven't read anything about any type of development. Strange, to say the least.
Will More than 1 year ago
As much as I didn't like him as a rider, NYRA needs him in their front office. He seems like he's got it together and we as a sport needs to rid the game of the clueless people that run the game and get some people in decision making positions that care about racing first! Most importantly he also has their respect.
Greg More than 1 year ago
He says obstacles every day? His brain and body arent comunicating? Iam confused, he looks terribly sad in interview. What r the after affects hes going thru? Has he lost coordination? Dr says if u fall again it might hurt? Saddle up bro an do what u want to do, we only live once. Ur one of the greatest go do it.