It is one of the most dangerous jobs in sports. That of being a jockey on a thoroughbred race horse. The best, and most consistent are very well compensated. That said, Major League ball players don’t go to the ballpark everyday thinking they might not see their family again. The jockey is a different breed of athlete. Sports-casters, and columnists tend to use the word courage in often offending ways; “That was a courageous golf shot.” PLEASE! Courage (in sports) is a 110 pound man getting on the back of a 1000 pound thoroughbred horse running upwards of 40 miles an hour, sitting atop a plate sized piece of leather, holding on with their legs, and steering with their hands. Being down at the rail for a race is an exhilarating experience. As the thundering herd turns for home, the dirt flies, the noise intensifies, and the ground quakes. It’s hard to ignore that after the field of horses pass by a speeding ambulance is right behind them. It is a constant reminder of the peril jockeys put themselves in every race they ride. Every day, every mount is a game of Russian roulette for them.
Jose Flores was on a horse named LOVE RULES last Monday (3/19) in the 9th race at Parx Race Track, (just outside Philadelphia) when the horse fell without warning, this in turn sent Jose flying over the top of the horse and crashing to the ground head first. He was rushed to a nearby hospital with severe cranial and spinal injuries. He remained unconsciousness, and was put on life support. He stayed on life support until Thursday (3/22) when his parents arrived from Florida. He was then taken off the life support and subsequently passed away. He was 57 years old and was a jockey for three decades. He is survived by his wife Joanne (a former jockey herself) and three grown sons. A true professional in every regard, he was admired by everyone in the industry. R.I.P. Jose