Most thoroughbred racing fans remember Victor Espinoza as the always smiling, effervescent jockey who in 2015 rode AMERICAN PHAROAH to victories in the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness, and the Belmont Stakes, becoming the first horse in 37 years to win the Triple Crown.
But not much has been heard from him since the world-renowned jockey was involved in a horrible accident back on July 22nd at Del Mar race track that left his horse dead and the rider with a broken neck.
Espinoza was riding BOBBY ABU DHABI during a training run, when the horse suffered a fatal heart attack on the track and sent the 5’1, 112-pound jockey flying into the air without any warning. After being quickly taken to the hospital, Espinoza was diagnosed with a fracture of his C3 vertebrae in his neck that had a paralyzing affect.
When he came to after his fall, Espinoza revealed that he was unable to move his body at all. He tried wiping away the mud that had caked his face, but couldn’t feel his limbs.
In a recent interview he said: “I thought, I’m being paralyzed. My mind is going crazy, thinking a lot of crazy things.’’ He went on to say; “In my mind I see all the wheelchairs around the barns. I was so scared. I was like, why does this happen to me?’’
Slowly, the jockey has been regaining movement across his body. He can walk, but it’s a struggle. The same goes for feeding himself. His neck is still in a brace and he’s unable to turn his head. His mobility is limited. There is still no feeling in his left arm. Currently, Espinoza needs a caregiver to help him get out of bed, dress, and clean himself.