Yesterday, after the Saratoga winners’ circle had cleared following the first race celebration, jockey Norberto Arroyo Jr. stood and watched the replay. He held his 18-month-old son, Norberto Arroyo III, and smiled as he watched the image of his winning mount flash across the screen. It felt good to be back.
More than two months ago, Arroyo went down in the same spill that cost Andrew Lakeman his riding career. Lakeman was paralyzed in the May 25 racing accident. Arroyo only broke his left collarbone.
The jockey returned to racing Aug. 10, but it is not easy to find good mounts when coming into the middle of the competitive Saratoga meet. This horse, Montauk, trained by James Jerkens, was his first winner since the spill. Still, the jockey is thankful for the chance to ride at the premiere meet in the country – for the chance to ride at all.
“It feels great to be back,” Arroyo said. “I thank God I can ride here at Saratoga, or anywhere. Every time I come back safe I thank God and count my blessings.”
Arroyo, celebrating, said he now feels “One hundred and twenty percent, one hundred and fifty percent.”
To be healthy, to be riding at the premiere meet in the country, and to enjoy the thrill of victory – who wouldn’t feel the same?