Miguel Mena, one of the most successful jockeys in Churchill Downs history, was killed in a pedestrian accident in Louisville, Kentucky on Sunday night, just six days from his 35th birthday, the racetrack said in a statement on Monday.
Churchill Downs said Mena – whose full name was Jose Miguel Mena Rodriguez – was killed on westbound I-64 between Blankenbaker Parkway and Hurstbourne Lane.
According to the Jeffersontown Police Department, Mena was struck by a vehicle after 7:30 p.m. on I-64 Westbound near Hurstbourne Parkway. He was pronounced dead at the scene. No charges are pending, police say.
The Jefferson County Coroner’s Office in a press release ruled Mena’s death an accident and stated that he died from blunt force injuries.
“This news is absolutely shocking, terrible and heartbreaking,” Churchill Downs Racetrack President Mike Anderson said in a statement. “Our team is devastated to learn of Miguel’s passing. He was such a courageous rider who fought to overcome several challenges and adversity.
“We’ll miss his bright smile. Our deepest condolences are extended to his many friends, fellow riders and family, and our immediate thoughts are with his wife April and his daughters Naelah and Montserrat.”
The two-time winner of the prestigious Stephen Foster Stakes won 2,079 races in North America and has mounted in 16,234 races, earning him $72,483,396 in prize money, according to the racetrack.
Mena hit the 2,000-win milestone aboard Royal Commission at Ellis Park on July 4, 2020.
Mena, who was born in Lima, Peru, came from a horse racing background, Churchill Downs said. His father, Jose, was a jockey and his uncle, Humberto, is a trainer.
At age 11, Mena began grooming horses. He came to the United States at 17 and would win his first North American race at Calder Race Course in 2003, according to the racetrack.
In the fall of 2006, the Peruvian started riding at Churchill Downs where he would win 481 times, ranking him 15th all-time.
His final ride, according to Churchill Downs, was this past Saturday at Keeneland in Lexington, Kentucky.