July 23, 2018 / 1:18 AM / a year ago

Espinoza breaks vertebra in neck after horse collapses, dies

file photo: Horse Racing - Dubai World Cup - Meydan Racecourse, Dubai - 26/3/16 - Victor Espinoza, who competed with California Chrome from USA, celebrates after winning the ninth and final race. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah Picture Supplied by Action Images

Hall of Fame jockey Victor Espinoza broke a bone in his neck but had feeling in his body and extremities after a scary accident in which the horse he was riding collapsed and died during training Sunday morning, according to multiple media reports.

Espinoza, 46, lay motionless on the track in Del Mar, Calif., as paramedics approached. They stabilized his head and neck and rushed him by ambulance to Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, Calif., where he remained Sunday night for observation.

Espinoza, a three-time Kentucky Derby winner who captured the Triple Crown with American Pharoah in 2015, broke the C3 vertebra in his neck and had lingering numbness in his left shoulder and arm but no other fractures from the fall, his agent, Brian Beach, told the Union Tribune.

“It’s all good for now,” Beach said to the newspaper. “It looks like we dodged a bullet. He has regained about 50 percent of the feeling already. Doctors are optimistic he’ll recover fairly quickly.”

Espinoza, a native of Mexico, was inducted into the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame in 2017. He has won at Churchill Downs while riding War Emblem (2002), California Chrome (2014) and American Pharoah (2015), and he has won three times at the Preakness Stakes and once at the Belmont Stakes.

The fallen colt was 4-year-old Bobby Abu Dhabi, who was training for the upcoming Bing Crosby Stakes at the track. He was owned by Rockingham Ranch and trained by Peter Miller and had several victories to his name, including his first race at Del Mar in 2016.

“We lost our boy, BOBBY ABU DHABI to a sudden cardiac arrest on the track,” Rockingham Ranch co-owner Brian Trump tweeted. “While we are deeply saddened and heartbroken by this loss our thoughts are currently with HOF jockey Victor Espinoza. Please keep him in your prayers”

—Field Level Media

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