Victor Espinoza, the popular jockey who rode American Pharoah to the Triple Crown in 2015, will miss the rest of the Del Mar meet after suffering a fractured vertebrae during a training accident on Sunday, reports Jay Privman of the Daily Racing Form.
Espinoza was aboard Bobby Abu Dhabi when the 4-year-old horse collapsed and died at Del Mar in California on Sunday morning. Espinoza was taken to a hospital via ambulance. Reports said he suffered a fractured vertebrae in his neck as well as a shoulder and arm injury.
“He has regained about 50 percent of the feeling already,” agent Brian Beach said in a statement released by Del Mar. “Doctors are optimistic he’ll fully recover fairly quickly. It’s the kind of thing that football players get all the time.”
Beach told Privman that Espinoza is expected to make a full recovery, but must wear a neck brace for six weeks.
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The 46-year-old Espinoza has won the Kentucky Derby three times. He rode Derby winner War Emblem for trainer Bob Baffert in 2002. He won the 2014 Derby aboard California Chrome for trainer Art Sherman.
Then in 2015, he rode Pharoah to wins in the Derby, Preakness and Belmont to become the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years. Espinoza then rode Pharoah to a win in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Keeneland.
According to Equibase, Espinoza has ridden 16 winners in 139 mounts this year. Three of those wins have been graded stakes wins aboard Accelerate, who has won the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap, the Grade 1 Gold Cup and the Grade 2 San Pasqual Stakes.
Bobby Abu Dhabi won the Grade 2 Kona Gold Stakes at Santa Anita on April 21, with Espinoza riding, before finishing third in the Grade 2 True North Stakes on June 8 at Belmont Park.