Jockey Victor Espinoza was injured Sunday after the horse he was riding at the Del Mar racetrack collapsed and died instantly during morning training.
The horse’s owner, Brian Trump, said Bobby Abu Dhabi went into cardiac arrest with Espinoza onboard at about 9 a.m. The horse fell and died.
Espinoza lay motionless for several minutes after being thrown from the horse between the sixteenth pole and the wire, the racetrack said. He was taken to the hospital for multiple injuries.
Espinoza suffered a fracture of the C-3 vertebra and a “stinger” to the left shoulder and arm, causing shoulder pain and numbness.
He and is awake and moving his legs, according to the hospital. He will not be racing Sunday and will remain in the hospital overnight.
“He has regained about 50 percent of the feeling already,” Espinoza’s agent Brian Beach said. “Doctors are optimistic he’ll fully recover fairly quickly. It’s the kind of thing that football players get all the time.”
“It looks like we dodged a bullet,” Beach added.
The public did not see the accident because the gates didn’t open until 12 p.m. Sunday.
Trump confirmed Bobby Abu Dhabi’s death on Twitter: “It is with great sadness that I can confirm this morning we lost our boy, BOBBY ABU DHABI to a sudden cardiac arrest on the track. While we are deeply saddened and heartbroken by this loss our thoughts are currently with HOF jockey @VictorEspinoza. Please keep him in your prayers.”
Four-year-old colt Bobby Abu Dhabi was training for the Bing Crosby Stakes next Saturday.
Espinoza, 46, guided American Pharoah to a Triple Crown Win in 2015. American Pharoah was trained by Bob Baffert who has a residence in San Diego and trains horses in Santa Anita Park north of LA.
Espinoza has won the Kentucky Derby three times and the Preakness Stakes three times. Last year, he was inducted into the Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame.