Second Chances

by Ed Meyer

posted on August 31, 2009 in General Discussion | 2 Comments >>

If you have a soft spot for someone in a bad way, let it be now… No, this is not life threatening, but it could be a career ending mistake that could have future health problems, and be a sad day for racing.

I first saw Miguel Mena ride at Turfway Park. Early on, he looked pretty good in the saddle and held his own. As time wore on, he began to shape and form under the watchful eye of super-agent Steve Elzey. He began to look like another rider to be reckoned with. Elzey has helped many riders move to the next level; there are too many to mention. Suffice it say, when he says get an umbrella, it is going to rain……

Mena rode Backtalk (a two-year-old at Saratoga) to a victory in the G-2 Sanford. These are the races that make champions down the road.

This jock is 22 years old. He is awfully young, and as Jenny Rees wrote in the Courier Journal: “there are many things that go along with success like money, and the ability to handle the success.” Mena had a hiccup….

He was supposed to ride the West Virginia Derby card, and he overslept and missed his flight. He scrambled to get another, or charter a flight, but came up empty….Three of his mounts won on this day, including his West Virgina Derby mount Soul Warrior, at 23-1.

He was dejected, and found no place to go. His agent first got him on a plane and brought him back to Louisville. This would get him near friends again. Elzey then made him “man-up” and pay his % for the winning rides, which totaled $17,000. I know, it sounds tough. But love sometimes has to be about owning up to mistakes.

Since then, Mena is conquering demons. He is attending AA meetings to get his addiction under control, and rides at Ellis Park. This is a far cry from Saratoga… But, he must do some hard work, and regain the confidence of the trainers, owners and public. He has learned at a young age that success has a price, and it bites while it kisses.

So, when you see Mena on the track plying his trade, you can bet he will do it with a smile. He is thinking about Backtalk, and getting back to Saratoga to ride him in the G-1 Hopeful Stakes. This is a longshot, as racing has a memory. But, with a little help from friends, and understanding from all, this talented rider will pick himself up, and not make this mistake again. The world is full of wasted talent, and I think Miguel Mena will not be included in that chapter.