Mexican Jockey Hurt at Del Mar

Created: 23 July, 2018
Last update: 27 July, 2022

By Marinee Zavala

Victor Espinoza

Mexican jockey Victor Espinoza, three-time winner of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, will not be able to close out the horse-racing season at Del Mar this year.

During a workout this past Sunday morning in preparation for an upcoming race, Espinoza suffered several fractures on his neck and injuries to his left shoulder and arm.

Agent Brian Beach mentioned that Espinoza was recovering at Scripps Memorial Hospital. “He will be moved out of the ICU,” he said. “Unfortunately, he will miss the rest of the Del Mar 2018 competition.”

The horse that Espinoza, who was born in Tulancingo, Hidalgo (Mexico), was riding was Bobby Abu Dhabi, and according to its owner the horse died at around 9 a.m. as a result of a sudden heart attack while the jockey was riding him.

The incident was not witnessed by the public, as the race track usually does not open its doors until close to noon.

“The past 24 hours have been filled with sadness in light of the loss of Bobby Abu Dhabi. Today, the hopeful news of a promising full recovery for Victor Espinoza brings a bit of happiness to this most tragic incident. Victor is not only our jockey, but has also become a good friend,” said Brian Trump, owner of the horse and the Rockingham Ranch global thoroughbred racing organization.

Although people close to 46-year-old Espinoza have ruled out paralysis, they did confirm a fracture to the C3 vertebra – located along the neck – which is involved in mobility. They also stated that he suffered a “stinger” that caused temporary numbness to his left arm.

His agent and the horse’s owner confirmed that Victor was doing better in the hospital the following day, and described his condition as “stable.” They added that he had been out of bed and walked a little. However, the jockey will remain in the hospital for observation.

Espinoza will have mandatory rest and physical therapy, but they could not confirm the exact date that the first Latino Triple Crown winner (in 2015) would return to horse racing.

The deceased four-year-old American horse will undergo a necropsy examination as per California Horse Racing Board Rule 1846.5, Post-Mortem Examination, which states that “Every horse which suffers a fatal injury on the racetrack in training or in competition… shall undergo a postmortem examination at a diagnostic laboratory which is under contract with the Board to determine the injury or sickness which resulted in euthanasia or natural death.” It further states that “Test samples may be obtained from the carcass upon which the postmortem examination is to be conducted and sent to the diagnostic laboratory for testing for foreign substances or their metabolites, and natural substances at abnormal levels.”

Although the horse apparently died of a heart attack, they will await the results of the necropsy to rule our other potential causes of the sudden death.