ENCINITAS, Calif. – Hall of Fame jockey and Triple Crown winner Victor Espinoza wondered if he would ever walk again after the horseriding accident in Del Mar.
“Oh my gosh. It was the scariest moment ever. I didn’t know what would happen. Nothing hurt that was the scary part,” Espinoza said as he joined physicians Thursday to discuss his recent injuries and medical care at the Scripps hospitals.
The 46 year-old Espinoza was riding “Bobby Abu Dhabi” during a training run when the horse suddenly had a heart attack and collapsed.
Espinoza suffered fractured vertebrae as well as injuries to his neck and left arm when a horse died during training July 22 at the Del Mar racetrack.
“It was quite an experience. I fell many times before but not like this time,” he said. “When I fell off [this time], I was conscious and good in my head. I was laying there and couldn’t feel my body. Then it clicked in my brain … and I wondered if I was ever going to walk again.”
When Espinoza was placed in an ambulance he could feel one of his legs and was relieved. He later was able to move both legs.
The jockey’s doctor said he will need time and patience as he recoveries and continues his rehabilitation program.
“Doctors were good they’re the best and I thank them because I believe with good doctors we get good [care],” Espinoza said.
Espinoza teared up when talking about the horse. He said he thinks of horses not as animals, but as humans. He said every time he would get on horse, all he cared about was that both he and the animal would do their job and be healthy at the end of the day.
Espinoza said he’s not thinking about racing right now and wants to focus on recovery.
“I am confident I will be a 100% again — to win many more races, hopefully,” said Espinoza.