Donald L. Howard
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Donald L. Howard (born in Ft. Collins, Colorado) is a retired American jockey in Thoroughbred horse racing. He is the son of to John and Sandra Howard. Unlike many jockeys, Don did not grow up around the race track. After his father, a veterinarian, purchased a horse trailer from a trainer in Juarez, Mexico, Don was given the opportunity to work as an exercise rider as a summer job. He continued as an exercise rider until he signed a contract with the trainer and began his horse racing career when he was 16 years old. He was the leading rider at Ruidoso Downs, New Mexico as a senior in high school.
Don has raced throughout the United States and spent significant time at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas where in 1991 he rode five winners on a single racecard. He also competed at Louisiana Downs (Shreveport, Louisiana) as well as in Chicago, New York and Kentucky. Howard was the leading rider at Louisiana Downs for several consecutive years in the late 1980's.
As is the case with most jockeys, Don Howard experienced several serious injuries. In 1993, he suffered a nearly fatal accident while racing at Louisiana Downs. In the final stretch riding Police Cat, the horse broke its leg resulting in the horse falling into a somersault. Don was able to untangle himself from his horse only to be trampled by an apprentice's horse that was several lengths behind. Don was unconscious for nearly an hour and initially was not expected to survive. He suffered his fourth severe concussion in six months and had a compound fracture of his right humerus, the same arm that was nearly amputed when he was 14 due to a hay equipment accident.
In 1994, Don Howard attempted to return to horse racing, only to discover that the fractured humerus had not healed. The non-union fracture required several additional surgeries.
In 1997, Howard returned to horse racing in New Mexico and then back to Oaklawn Park. His circuit eventually included Prairie Meadows in Des Moines, Iowa. Don Howard was very successful at Prairie Meadows and was consistently in the top 3 jockeys in the number of wins as well as earnings.
He never officially retired, but has not raced since 2002.
Horse Racing Milestones
- 1989 Kentucky Derby on Irish Actor
- Super Derby X
- Super Derby XII
- One of the Top Ten Jockeys in the entire United States
- Won 5 races during the Arkansas Derby Day
Don Howard, the Family Man
Don was married to his high school sweetheart, Carla, just three days after graduation from high school. They remained married for eighteen years and had two daughters. He has three grandchildren . Don re-married in 1999 to Moira, they remained married for eight years. Don is presently married to Theresa with a stepson, Nathaniel.
Life After Horse Racing
Don has been an entrepreneur his entire life. He currently owns a resort in Creede, Colorado that has lodging, Jeeps, ATV's and snowmobiles. He also manages the Continental Guest Ranch that was homesteaded by his great-grandfather in 1924.
Snowmobiling remains his passion. In 1994, Don was one of seventeen invited to ride the Iditarod trail from Nome to Anchorage, Alaska on snowmobiles as part of the Iron Dog Friendship Ride.
Don remains active in his community. He has served on several community organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce and Snow Country Explorers Snowmobile Club; although, his church responsibilities are paramount.