(Originally published in the August 28, 2010 issue of The
Blood-Horse magazine. Feel free to share your own thoughts and
the bottom of the column.)
When I sat down at the beginning of the Hall of Fame induction ceremony last Friday in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., a thousand thoughts went racing through my mind. I saw the great trainers and riders who were already members—people like D. Wayne Lukas and Angel Cordero Jr.—and I was just a little anxious. After all of the anticipation, I knew I was going to be there pretty soon.
I started riding when I was 9 years old, and I was a 9-year-old going 45 miles an hour. Back then it was a completely different era. God gave me the talent, and I took advantage of it and made the best of it. Opportunities came my way, and I didn’t ever take them for granted. I was really very blessed and I was very much aware of that throughout my career, and I kept thinking about that all last week as I was waiting for the induction ceremony.
Even though I had been on the ballot eight different times in previous years, I am a big believer in timing. I think timing is everything. The timing for this was just right. This year my book, “Randy Romero’s Remarkable Ride,” came out and I’m working on a movie called “Riding on the Edge” with Steve Beswick and James Courtney. It’s a story of my life.
Even though my career had ups and downs and starts and stops, it was all worth it. There were times when I was so hurt that I didn’t want to get up in the morning; I didn’t want to go to therapy; I didn’t want to go on. It was hard. But I made myself do it because I had this need to get back in the competition and because I had to get back around the horses. What was it that got me through the hard times? The help of the good people around me, determination, and a love for the game.
People have asked me what kind of advice I would give to young riders who want to achieve success at the Hall of Fame level. It’s not rocket science...but it takes a lot of willpower. I was up early every day, studying the Racing Form, going out to work horses in the mornings, watching race replays, learning everything I could learn. Young guys need to surround themselves with good people and learn to be gentlemen. Some of these kids nowadays are punks, and they need to learn to respect the sport and respect their position. This is a man’s sport and it’s also a money sport, and when you walk into the paddock to shake that owner’s hand, you’d better be a consummate professional.
Everybody thought I would get weepy and emotional at the Hall of Fame ceremony, but as I told them all before I got there, my time for tears is over. Through all my surgeries I cried plenty of tears. When I was burned in the hotbox, that was a nightmare. And when I hurt my elbow that was a nightmare.
My Hall of Fame induction proves that dreams really do come true.
I’m just very excited and overwhelmed to end up taking my place among all these great horsemen and runners. It’s a great accomplishment and a great honor. My grandkids and my great-grandkids will remember the Romero that went into the Hall of Fame. Now I’m part of that league. Now I can say “Hall of Famer Randy Romero.”
People have always asked me, “You’re a jockey; did you ever win the Kentucky Derby?” I could never say “Yes,” because I never did. I rode in nine editions and I never won it. But now I can say, “I’m in the Hall of Fame,” and people will know what that means.
It means everything to me. Randy Romero was inducted into racing’s Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., Aug. 13