Ralph Borgemenke, Jockey Extraordinaire

Ralph Borgemenke, Jockey Extraordinaire

Did you know we have a prominent jockey buried in his full silks in the Mt. Washington Cemetery?

Ralph Borgemenke, at age 18, was ranked number two in the nation’s 1951 jockey standings. He rode at racetracks throughout the country, including Churchill Downs, where he participated in the 1956 Kentucky Derby. In that race, Ralph finished ninth riding King O’Swords.

Being a jockey was certainly not for the faint of heart. In 1951, Ralph was trying for his 233rd victory of the year in New Orleans. It was late in the year and Ralph looked like the cinch winner of the nation’s leading rider title. He was urging his horse, Sam H., along when all of a sudden, Sam H. lowered his head, sending Ralph sky high. As Ralph came down, his horse lifted his head as if to give his rider one for good measure. The injury put Ralph in the hospital. Just take a look at the attached payments made to injured jockeys in 1975, Ralph Borgemenke among them. The list is full of jockeys who were paralyzed or killed by the sport.

Ralph and his wife, Patricia, had two children, Scott and Suzanne. Suzanne was only 10 and Scott, 12, when their father died. Like his father, Scott was a standout athlete. As a freshman at Anderson High School in Cincinnati, Scott was 4’9″ and 76 pounds. He was a star hockey player. “I remember his coach grabbing him by the neck and saying, `This kid scares the hell out of me,'” said Borgemenke’s mother, Patricia. “He would just not back down.” Scott, then affectionately called Scooter by his teammates, became the league leader in assists.

Ralph only lived for two more years after he hung up his riding gear at the age of 43. He is buried in his riding silks with a beautiful portion of William Wordsworth’s poem, “Intimations of Immortality,” written on his headstone: “Although we can’t bring back the glory of the splendor in the grass, we will find strength in what lies behind.”