There is no way of knowing if Michael Rowland would have succeeded in his quest for the 4,000th victory of his career that day. All that is certain is his mount, the prophetically named World Trade, was leading the seventh race at Kentucky’s Turfway Park on February 4, 2004 when it fractured a leg and collapsed, throwing Rowland to the ground where he was struck by the two horses immediately behind him. Less than five days later, the 41-year-old rider, who had hoped to become just the 43rd rider nationally to accumulate 4,000 victories, instead became the 144th jockey to die of racing injuries in North America since 1940. It was a particularly sad day for horse racing fans in Cleveland where Rowland had been operating from Thistledown as his home base for most of his 24 years as a rider. He had won 29 meet titles, both all-time track records, and he twice won six races in a day, tying an Ohio thoroughbred racing record. Among his most notable victories in Cleveland were the first runnings of the $200,000 Best of Ohio Endurance Championship in 1987 and the Grade 3 Thistledown Budweiser Breeders’ Cup in 1997. A native of Saratoga Springs, NY, where he learned his trade from his father, who was a successful harness trainer. He was also married to a trainer, Tammy, whom he met at Keeneland Rack Track and who was working at Turfway Park at the time of his fatal accident.
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