The son of Peruvian jockey Jose Mena, brother of jockey Alderly Mena, and nephew of a trainer, Miguel Mena came to America to follow in the footsteps of fellow Peruvians Edgar Prado and Rafael Bejarano. After attending jockey school at age 12 and riding in Peru, he moved to Florida in 2004 at the age of 18. A move to the Midwest and eventually Kentucky followed as his star rose, and taking riding titles at Ellis Park and Turfway Park in 2006, and Presque Isle Downs in 2007 led eventually to riding for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas in the 2009 Belmont Stakes on Luv Gov.
Mena won his first Grade 1 in 2010 aboard Champagne d’Oro in the Test Stakes, and his second aboard Pool Play in the 2011 Stephen Foster Handicap.
After recovering from a broken ankle suffered in 2018, Mena was named in 2020 the inaugural winner of the Randy Romero Pure Courage Award that recognizes an active jockey who has overcome adversity.
Mena picked up his 2,000th career victory in July 2020 at Ellis Park, and also won his second Stephen Foster aboard Tom’s d’Etat that summer.
Tragically, Mena died in a pedestrian accident in Louisville on Oct. 31, 2021, just days before his 35th birthday, when struck by a vehicle. He ranked 15th all time in victories at Churchill Downs with 481 at the time of his death and overall won 2,079 races with earnings of over $72.4 million.