The 46-year-old Hall of Fame jockey is aiming to return to riding in January, half a year after he was seriously injured.
Espinoza was riding Bobby Abu Dhabi in a workout at Del Mar when the horse collapsed of an apparent heart attack. The horse immediately died but Espinoza was flying through the air. He landed on the dirt with a broken neck.
“One minute, I’m winning the Triple Crown,’’ Espinoza said via the Los Angeles Times. “The next minute, I can’t feed myself.’’
“What happened to Victor is the thing we fear the most,’’ fellow Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens told the Times. “A spinal injury. Somebody who might not be returning to the saddle. It’s a real eye-opener.’’
Stevens was forced to retire from horse racing after over 30,000 races due to a C4 vertebra pressing up against his spinal cord.
Victor Espinoza Aims For Comeback
But Espinoza isn’t done quite yet. The jockey was back at Del Mar this past Saturday for the first time since the accident, the Associated Press reported. He presented the trophy to the winner in the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby.
Espinoza says he hopes to return to the track and race sometime in January at Santa Anita. The track opens its winter meet on Dec. 26.
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