DEL MAR, Calif. — Jockey Victor Espinoza was injured when the horse he was riding at Del Mar racetrack collapsed during training and died.
Racetrack officials say Bobby Abu Dhabi suffered an apparent fatal heart attack during a workout Sunday morning. Espinoza was thrown off the horse, then lay motionless for several minutes before being fitted with a neck brace and taken by ambulance to a hospital.
Agent Brian Beach says the 46-year-old Hall of Fame jockey suffered a fractured vertebra in his neck and a “stinger” to the left shoulder and arm. He says Espinoza will remain in the hospital overnight, but doctors expect a full recovery.
Beach says Espinoza, who guided American Pharoah to the triple crown in 2015, suffered no paralysis or other broken bones. He says “it looks like we dodged a bullet.”
Four-year-old Bobby Abu Dhabi was training for the Bing Crosby Stakes next Saturday.
LOS ALAMITOS, Calif. — Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert swept the CashCall Futurity and Starlet for 2-year-olds, winning the Grade 1 races for the second straight year at Los Alamitos.
Improbable won the $300,345 Futurity by five lengths as the 1-5 favorite and 3-2 favorite Chasing Yesterday won the $300,345 Starlet by a head on Saturday. Drayden Van Dyke became the second jockey to win both races in the same year.
Baffert earned his fifth straight victory in the Futurity and his 11th overall, having won it six times at old Hollywood Park.
Improbable ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:41.18 and paid $2.40 to win. The colt’s ownership includes most of the group that owned Triple Crown winner Justify.
In the Starlet, Chasing Yesterday ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.59 and paid $5 to win. She is a half-sister to 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, also trained by Baffert.
DEL MAR, Calif. — Hall of Fame jockey Victor Espinoza is aiming to return to riding in January, six months after he was seriously injured in a training accident.
The 46-year-old rider says he had an MRI recently and “it came out perfect.” Espinoza says he doesn’t need surgery and his spinal cord has healed “perfectly,” which was his main concern.
He fractured a vertebra in his neck at Del Mar last July when the horse he was exercising fell.
Espinoza was back at Del Mar on Saturday for the first time since the accident. He presented the trophy to the winning connections in the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby. He has been recuperating at his Del Mar home.
Espinoza says he hopes to return sometime in January at Santa Anita. The track opens its winter meet on Dec. 26.
He rode American Pharoah to a Triple Crown sweep in 2015.