Perfect Ride

by Ed Meyer

posted on April 29, 2019 in General Discussion, Horse Racing, Kentucky Derby, | 3 Comments >>

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We’ve seen good rides and bad trips. You blame the rider, the horse, or forgetting to wear your favorite hat. – But when you get that “perfect ride” there’s nothing sweeter as a racing fan with a $2 dollar ticket in hand.

Years ago, I met a small gent with a kind smile. Always dressed sharp and his favorite look was the black vest that fit his toned body perfectly. – Upon looking at him you would swear he could still ride, and when you shook his hand it was like a pair of vice grips.  A no-nonsense man with a sense of humor and dedication for educating and schooling riders. He wanted to share his knowledge and craft with the new riders and remind the journeymen of the little things that make all the difference. – He would arrive every day on his motorcycle and be the first to the steward’s office. – That’s where I met the rider of the 1970 Kentucky Derby winner, Mike Manganello.

Image may contain: 4 people, including Mike Manganello, people smiling, people standing, suit and outdoor


Mike always had that quiet smile, but don’t let that fool you. He could kick it into gear and take care of business. His gentle but firm way helped many riders who would come to his office with other stewards and watch the “movies.” – This is a replay of the past day’s races where an infraction occurred or some questionable decisions by riders would be met by words from a master. – Safety is paramount in racing and having stewards who know the game makes it that much safer.

Image may contain: Mike Manganello, smiling, eyeglasses


Here is a recent picture of Mike signing autographs at a PDJF event. – The PDJF is the permanently disabled jockeys fund of which he and his wife Kitty are always seen. – The PDJF help riders who have been hurt or disabled pay bills, take care of expenses and receive medical attention. – You can take part at any time with a donation as it goes to a great cause. – Here he is with his better half Kitty at a Mahoning Valley PDJF Day.

Image may contain: Kitty Manganello and Mike Manganello, people smiling, people standing


I was chatting with Mike one day about his magical ride aboard Dust Commander in 1970. – He wasn’t one for bragging or talking about the good old days, but he spoke to me about his victory like it happened two minutes ago. – His ride was flawless and I kidded him about how he saved ground and only left the rail once. ” Mike; Calvin Borel is known as the rail-skimming rider, but I think he watched a few of your wins.” – He just laughed and told me how it was done back in the day. – I didn’t have the nerve to tell him I was in awe just talking Derby with a man whose name is etched in history. – I enjoyed working with Mike at Belterra Park, and he is one of the good guys of racing. – My best to you and Ms. Kitty, Mike. – Now without further adieu, here is the 1970 Kentucky Derby. – Keep an eye on the gold silks from the 3/8th’s pole to the winner’s circle. He left the rail only once and dropped right back over to save his ground. I must have watched this race a 1,000 times and it is still one of my favorites.