Armando Rivera, 58, a paraplegic since a northern California racing accident at 18, will race his wheelchair in the March 30 “Run The Bluegrass” half-marathon in the area surrounding Keeneland. Keeneland will be sponsoring Rivera who has competed in over 40 such races around the country.
Rivera’s racing attire includes a shirt or cap with a Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund logo and often uses the monthly stipend he receives from the PDJF to pay his racing entrance fees.
“I’m on a mission,” he said. “Racing gives me a challenge and I have to keep pushing. I’m racing to raise awareness for my fellow injured jockeys and that’s important to me.”
Rivera was one of the six catastrophically-injured jockeys honored at last summer’s Jockeys and Jeans Event at Canterbury Park and will attend the group’s PDJF fundraiser at Santa Anita June 22.
“At the event last summer we all noted Armando had biceps bigger than most jockeys’ thighs,” said Barry Pearl, the group’s president. “He is a shining example of the overcoming spirit inherent in all the jockeys who suffered catastrophic injuries. We thank Keeneland and their President and CEO Bill Thomason for making this possible and we hope a lot of folks come out to cheer for him. But in Armando’s case, no matter where he finishes, he’s still a winner.”