DEL MAR, Calif. (AP) Hall of Fame jockey Victor Espinoza has been moved to a rehabilitation facility to recover from a fractured vertebra in his neck sustained during a training accident.
Agent Brian Beach tweeted Friday that Espinoza had left the hospital, where he had been up and walking around in the days after being injured last Sunday.
Beach says the 46-year-old rider is “still doing well and is one step closer to going home.”
Espinoza was exercising Bobby Abu Dhabi during morning workouts at Del Mar north of San Diego. Track officials said the horse had an apparent heart attack and Espinoza was thrown off. Bobby Abu Dhabi, a 4-year-old horse, died.
Espinoza rode American Pharoah to a sweep of the Triple Crown in 2015.
The jockey will miss the rest of the Del Mar meet that ends Sept. 3.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Churchill Downs has modified paths to the Kentucky Derby and Oaks, awarding points to the top five finishers in qualifying races and increasing significance for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and late prep season events.
Most Derby prep races during the qualifying series for 3-year-olds will award points on a 10-4-3-2-1 sliding scale after using a 10-4-2-1 system since 2013. The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, run during the season-ending championships on Nov. 4 at Keeneland in Lexington, Kentucky, will increase points from 20-8-4-2 to 30-12-9-6-3 to differentiate the Grade I event from others during prep season.
Select prep races for the 20-horse Derby field have elevated points from a 10-4-2-1 scale to 20-8-6-4-2 to increase their importance and motivate hopefuls to begin their 3-year-old campaigns earlier in the season, track officials stated in a release.
“We believe these modifications adhere to and amplify our goal of assembling the finest group of 3-year-olds in the starting gate for a race at the classic distance of 1\ miles on the first Saturday in May,” Churchill Downs vice president/general manager Mike Ziegler said.
The 149th Kentucky Derby and Oaks for fillies will be held on May 5-6, 2023. Derby qualifying season begins with Saturday’s $300,000, Grade III Iroquois for 2-year-olds at Churchill Downs.
The point changes apply to Oaks qualifiers.
Elevated Derby preps include the Lecomte at Fair Grounds in Louisiana; Southwest at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas; Withers at Aqueduct in New York; Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park in Florida; Robert B. Lewis at Santa Anita in California; Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay Downs; and John Battaglia Memorial at Turfway Park in Kentucky.
DEL MAR, Calif. — Cave Rock won the $302,000 Del Mar Futurity by 5 1/4 lengths, giving Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert his record 16th victory in the Grade 1 race in which he finished 1-2.
Ridden by Juan Hernandez, Cave Rock ran seven furlongs in a stakes-record time of 1:20.99 on closing day at the seaside track north of San Diego. He lowered the old mark of 1:21.29 set by Declan’s Moon in 2004.
Baffert tied Phil D’Amato for the trainers’ title with 19 wins each at the 31-day summer meet. It was Baffert’s eighth title at Del Mar, but his first since 2003.
Hernandez won the jockeys’ title.
Havnameltdown, also trained by Baffert, finished second in the race for 2-year-olds. Skinner was another 4 1/4 lengths back in third.
Longtime Baffert clients Mike Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman own the first and second-place finishers.
Cave Rock paid $2.80 to win as the 2/5 favorite. He earned $180,000 for the win.