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Breeders' Cup 2017

Ramirez Saves the Day in Bay Shore

NYRA Assistant Starter Miguel Ramirez’s typical day includes climbing into constricted areas in the starting gate with hot-blooded, 1000-pound thoroughbreds, and helping ensure that they are in proper position for the start of the race.

 

What Ramirez’s typical day does not include is hanging onto the reins of a tightly-wound thoroughbred when it rears up, forces its way through the starting gate, and bursts onto the track at full speed.

 

But that is exactly what happened before last Saturday’s Grade 3, $200,000 Bay Shore with Royal Currier, prompting NYRA Starter Roy Williamson to say, “That was one of the best saves that I have ever seen.”

 

Ramirez, who has been an assistant starter with NYRA for seven years, was equally astonished.

 

“I’ve never had a horse break through like that,” said Ramirez, who grew up in the Dominican Republic and started working with horses at age 11. “When he was moving forward, I started yelling ‘no no no’ to let Roy know he wasn’t comfortable, and right at that moment he reared up and then broke through the gate. It happened so quickly that I didn’t even really know what was going on, I acted purely on instinct.”

 

It’s those instincts and horsemanship skills that have made Ramirez, 35, the perfect “outside man” for Williamson.

 

“I have one guy on the outside and that is Miguel,” Williamson said. “He is an incredible horseman and can handle anything on the track.”

 

The outside man of the starting gate crew has the most difficult job of all the assistant starters, explained Williamson.

 

“Not only is the outside man in the starting gate the least amount of time, but he knows that everyone else is waiting for him, so there is a lot of pressure,” said Williamson, who added that given the proximity of the outside man from the starter, he also has to be the loudest and most vocal in case there is a problem in the gate. “Miguel is the right guy for the outside.”

 

If Ramirez had not been able to hold onto the reins, Royal Currier, a multiple stakes-winning 3-year-old son of Red Bullet, would have gotten loose on the track and likely scratched from the race.

 

Instead, Ramirez’s miraculous save allowed Royal Currier to run in the Bay Shore, finishing fourth of seven runners and earning $8,000 for his connections, owner Mat Stables and trainer Patricia Farro.

 

In addition, Royal Currier’s jockey was Eddie Castro, who went on to win the Grade 1, $1 million Resorts World New York Casino Wood Memorial two races later aboard Toby’s Corner.

 

“Eddie thanked me later in the day for helping to protect him and his horse,” said Ramirez, who credits Williamson and former NYRA Starter Bob Duncan for helping him learn how to work the gate.

 

Ramirez, whose uncle was a trainer and father rode horses, came to the United States 12 years ago and spent five years working with trainer Joe Orseno before making the transition to assistant starter for NYRA.

 

“When I started working at the track in the Dominican Republic, I never thought I would make it to the United States and work at the big tracks in New York,” Ramirez said. “I love horses and this is my dream job.”

 

While there is no way of knowing right now who will be the final horse to enter the starting gate for the Belmont Stakes and the Travers, that horse is guaranteed to be in great hands – those of Miguel Ramirez.

 

 

 

 

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