Grapevine, TX – December 9, 2019 – In a rare tie, Miguel Mena and Kendrick Carmouche will share honors as Comeback Jockeys of the Year in 2019.
In 2018, Kendrick Carmouche and Miguel Mena each suffered race-related injuries that put their careers on hold. The incidents were at different tracks and at different times, but Mena and Carmouche shared similarities. Both riders were sidelined for months with injuries involving multiple fractures that were worse than first thought before successfully returning to their race riding careers, and both have been awarded the title of Comeback Jockey of the Year for 2019.
Kendrick Carmouche fractured his femur at Kentucky Downs on September 8, 2018. The severe injury kept him out of the saddle until February 24, 2019. As he recovered from the first riding-related injury of his 20-year career, Carmouche targeted a return at Aqueduct and returned to win enough races to land tied for fourth in the rider standings at the end of the meet.
Carmouche quickly returned to his winning ways. He won seven stakes at five different tracks this year, including the $200,000 Vagrancy (G3) at Belmont with Heavenhasmynikki, the $200,000 Pennsylvania Governor’s Cup at Penn National with Pure Sensation, and the $200,000 Caress at Saratoga with Mominou.
In 2019, Carmouche won 107 of his 774 starts and earned $6.2 million through the first week of December. He is 3,213 for 19,568 lifetime with $106.9 million in career earnings to date.
Before moving to the New York circuit, Carmouche won seven riding titles at Parx, including four consecutive titles between 2008 and 2011, and he was inducted into the Parx Hall of Fame in 2015.
Co-honoree Miguel Mena suffered multiple fractures in his right ankle and heel following an incident at the Fair Grounds on March 16, 2018 that involved multiple horses and left fellow rider Kerwin Clark with several fractures and a collapsed lung.
At the time of the accident, Mena was the leading rider of the meet at the Fair Grounds with 55 wins; his lead was substantial enough to ensure that he finished fifth overall when the meet ended despite being sidelined.
Seven months later, Mena returned to the track at Keeneland on October 25, 2018 and finished second in his first start since the March accident. His first win since the injury came at Churchill Downs on November 4, and six months later Mena finished second by wins among the competitive jockey colony at the spring Churchill meet. His 29 wins placed him second behind perennial Churchill leading rider Corey Lanerie.
Mena also partnered with several horses for multiple stakes wins this year. He rode Peace Achieved to victory in the $500,000 Gainesway Farm Juvenile at Kentucky Downs and in the $250,000 Dixiana Bourbon (G3) at Keeneland. He also won the $75,000 Mardi Gras with Student Body and the $60,000 Star Guitar with Grande Basin, both at the Fair Grounds.
Mena won 100 of his 938 starts in 2019 and earned $5.3 million; in his career to date, he was won 1,956 or 15,045 starts and earned nearly $67 million.
Previous winners of the Comeback Jockey of the Year Award include:
2018: David Cohen
2017: Rajiv Maragh
2016: Norberto Arroyo, Jr.
2015: T.D. Houghton
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