A fierce competitor on the racetrack during his career, three-time Eclipse Award-winning jockey Ramón Dominguez has joined international equine welfare charity Brooke USA as an ambassador to help spread awareness of the conditions of working equines around the world.
Born in Caracas, Venezuela, Dominguez began his racing career in North America in 1996 and had impressive purse earnings of $191,620,277. Dominguez won three Breeders' Cup races and set many records in the New York Racing Association. He won 4,985 races during his 17-year riding career, which ended in 2013 after he suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) from a fall at the Aqueduct Racetrack.
The decorated jockey is the recipient of numerous prestigious awards including the United States Champion Jockey by wins in 2001 and 2003, the Isaac Murphy Award in 2004, the Eclipse Award consecutively in 2010, 2011, 2012, and the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award in 2012. In 2016, he was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.
How did you first hear about Brooke USA?
I was attending the 142nd Preakness Stakes in Maryland when I first heard about Brooke USA from one of their publicists, Jamie Saults. She suggested that I could be a great fit for the organization and after researching the organization I said, "Absolutely!"
Of all the equine charities to choose from, why did you want to get involved with Brooke USA?
Horses are extremely important to me, and they are a huge part of my life. When I learned about what Brooke USA was doing with working horses, mules and donkeys around the world – giving the equines a better life and educating the people in those communities – it was very appealing to me. I wanted to be able to help in any way that I could. I am always looking for ways to give back!
What aspect of Brooke USA are you most passionate about - the equines, the people, global impact?
To be honest, I feel that all of the aspects of Brooke USA are very important. At the end of the day, the goal is for the equines to be well taken care of. However, I also think that the education is important. Helping the horses and donkeys and educating the people go hand in hand. By witnessing underdeveloped communities in South America first-hand, I can say that many of the owners want to do the right thing, but they just do not know how. I am passionate about bringing awareness to these communities by showing them how they can give their animals a better life.
What are your hopes for inspiring the horse racing industry to become involved with the organization?
Brooke USA is such a great cause, and my main goal is to bring awareness to the horse-racing community — my second family. However, I also think that anyone can join in this cause and help further the impact that Brooke USA is making around the world. I want to spread the vision of Brooke USA, which is improving the wellbeing of working equines and the humans who depend on them, to many others who have never heard about it before, especially within the racing community.
People in the racing community know who I am, and I hope I can open the door for people to learn more about Brooke USA. I hope people know that it is possible and tangible for them to help make a difference. If I am able to contribute, even in a very small way to that overall goal, at end of the day I will be receiving one of the greatest gifts — to know that I can make a difference.
What are some of your most recent accomplishments?
Most recently, I was inducted into the Delaware Park Wall of Fame, so that was very exciting! In 2016, I was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, so that was one of my biggest accomplishments. Before I retired from riding as a jockey, I won the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey three years in a row, which is given to only one jockey in the United States.
What are some of your goals for the future?
My primary goal is for people to know how amazing the organization is and for them to understand the impact that Brooke USA is making for working equines around the world. I think that will be very fulfilling.
Personally, I am looking forward to learning more about Brooke USA and getting to help behind the scenes. I want to get familiarized with all of their programs so that I can embrace it even more. I want to follow the lead of others in the organization and help in any way that I can.
Brooke USA is hosting one of their events in New York City this fall and that is something I would definitely love to be a part of.
What do you hope to accomplish as an ambassador for Brooke USA?
When you are helping to educate an individual and a community, you are not only helping the donkey, mule or horse that they have, you are potentially educating and changing the future for generations to come. In my mind, that is a big accomplishment. It is great to partner with an organization that is taking the reins and changing the future for the best.
By raising funds in the U.S. and stewarding those donations to the areas of greatest need, Brooke USA, a 501(c)(3) charity, supports international equine welfare programs around the world, primarily those of Brooke, the world’s largest international equine welfare charity. For more than 80 years, Brooke has worked in many of the poorest countries on earth, bringing scientifically proven, practical, and sustainable equine welfare solutions to the working animals on whom the poor depend to earn a livelihood. Last year alone, Brooke reached 2 million working equines, benefitting 12 million people across Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Central America. For more information on Brooke USA, go to www.BrookeUSA.org or contact Cindy Rullman at 859-296-0037 or Cindy.Rullman@BrookeUSA.org.