Veteran horse jockey killed in 'pedestrian accident' on Kentucky interstate, Churchill Downs says

Churchill Downs released a statement on Monday confirming news of Mena’s tragic death. 

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“Miguel Mena, one of the winningest jockeys in Churchill Downs history and a two-time winner of the prestigious Stephen Foster Stakes, was killed in a pedestrian accident on westbound I-64 between Blakenbaker Parkway and Hurstbourne Lane in Louisville on Sunday night. He was 34, just days shy of his 35th birthday on Saturday.” 

California Chrome with Miguel Mena up, right, edges out Ride On Curlin, left, with Joel Rossario up, to twin the 139th running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland, May 17, 2014.

California Chrome with Miguel Mena up, right, edges out Ride On Curlin, left, with Joel Rossario up, to twin the 139th running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland, May 17, 2014. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Jeffersontown Police Chief Rick Sanders told the Courier-Journal that Mena was apparently exiting a rideshare vehicle and walked up a ramp onto Interstate 64. He was struck just after 7:30 p.m. after attempting to cross traffic lanes. 

According to the report, there are “no charges pending.” 

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“This news is absolutely shocking, terrible and heartbreaking,” said Churchill Downs Racetrack President Mike Anderson. “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.”

NEW ORLEANS - FEB 21:  Donegal Racing president Jerry Crawford talks with jockey Miguel Mena on February 21, 2015 at the Fair Grounds Race Track in New Orleans. Crawford says that Mena sometimes rides Donegal horses.  (Photo by Edmund D. Fountain for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

NEW ORLEANS – FEB 21:  Donegal Racing president Jerry Crawford talks with jockey Miguel Mena on February 21, 2015 at the Fair Grounds Race Track in New Orleans. Crawford says that Mena sometimes rides Donegal horses.  (Photo by Edmund D. Fountain for The Washington Post via Getty Images) (Edmund D. Fountain for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Mena was born in Peru where he grew up around horse racing before attending the famed Jorge Bernardini Yori Jockey School. At 17, he traveled to the United States to compete, winning his first-ever North American win at Calder Race Course in 2003. 

Despite being one of Churchill Downs’ most winningest jockeys, he never claimed a riding title.

LEXINGTON, KY - APRIL 13:  Uncaptured #7, riden by Miguel Mena, is brought to the starting gate during the 89th Toyota Blue Grass Stakes at Keenland Race Course on April 13, 2013 in Lexington, Kentucky.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

LEXINGTON, KY – APRIL 13:  Uncaptured #7, riden by Miguel Mena, is brought to the starting gate during the 89th Toyota Blue Grass Stakes at Keenland Race Course on April 13, 2013 in Lexington, Kentucky.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

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