Erath native and legendary jockey Randy Romero has died.
The Louisiana Sports Hall of Famer, who battled numerous ailments for decades during and after a storied riding career, passed away early Thursday at his home in Lafayette. Romero was 61 years old.
Romero, a 2005 inductee into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame, had been battling kidney and liver disease even before his retirement, which came in 1999. Romero had been in hospice care at his home since June.
In his lengthy and sensational racing career, Romero recorded 4,294 winners and $75 million in mount earnings.
Romero was born Dec. 22, 1957, in Erath.
Romero was the son of Lloyd Romero, a state trooper who trained quarter horses and later on thoroughbreds. Romero began riding riding competitively at bush tracks across the state and officially began his riding career at age 16 at Evangeline Downs.
Romero, who was nicknamed “the Ragin’ Cajun” won riding titles at 10 different tracks, including Belmont, Keeneland, Gulfstream, and Fair Grounds. Romero also won riding titles at every Louisiana track (Delta Downs, Evangeline Downs, Fair Grounds, Jefferson Downs, Louisiana Downs).
Romero won four riding titles at the Fair Grounds in six seasons from 1979-80 to 1984-85, and his 181 wins in 1983-84 remains a Fair Grounds record.
Romero also rode Personal Ensign to a memorable victory in the 1988 Breeders’ Cup Distaff at Churchill Downs, keeping the Hall of Fame filly unbeaten.
Romero’s childhood also served as material for the 1978 film “Casey’s Shadow,” which starred Walter Matthau as the Cajun trainer and father, Lloyd Bourdelle.