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 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 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, 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.”