The worst injuries from horse racing


As the 2024 Kentucky Derby approaches, there’s an air of anticipation and excitement for one of the most highlighted US sporting events of the year. The Kentucky Derby will be held for the 150th time in history this year in Louisville, Kentucky, in which there’s expected to be crowds of more than 150,000 people. From A-list celebrities to British royalty, the Kentucky Derby reaches people from across the globe, with many traveling from out of state and even across seas to be in on the action.

For those not lucky enough to attend the event in person this year, there’s plenty of other ways to get involved, from betting on the Kentucky Derby odds online, to hosting a Kentucky Derby party at home and inviting family and friends over for the celebration.

While equestrian events are some of the most loved in US sports, it’s not without its risks. While every effort is made to ensure events like the Kentucky Derby go smoothly, Jockeys are only human and no matter how well trained or talented they are, mistakes can happen. The same goes for the horses, in which each year, a staggering 700 to 800 racehorses die from their injuries.

Below, we’ll take a look at the worst injuries in horse racing histories, including what happened to the racehorses being ridden, and how the jockeys recovered.

Abel Cedilllo – Del Mar race 2023

The Caesars sportsbook Del Mar Derby is a popular thoroughbred horse race that runs annually in Del Mar, California. The grade II race is open to three year old horses and takes place on a turf track over 9 furlongs.

While the race is enjoyed by thousands each year, the 2023 event was not without accidents as the race was compromised when jockey Abel Cedillo was thrown from his horse, Get the Gold. Get the Gold tumbled into the dirt at the start of the fourth race, just strides of the starting gate after colliding with two other horses who pinned them in on either side.

While Get the Gold managed to find his footing and leave the track, Cedillo was thrown from the horse and carried away by stretcher where it was feared he could have a spinal injury. After extensive x-rays and MRIs, it was confirmed that Cedillo had a broken bone in his neck but would not require surgery.

After four to six weeks of physical therapy, Cedillo was able to resume some activities, however the outcome could have been far more sinister.

Fonner Park – 2024

At a race held at Fonner Park on March 3rd this year, not one but three horses sadly lost their lives in a pile up, while the three jockeys and an outrider were all sent to the hospital. The four furlong race was going well until 4 year old Uncle Joey clipped heels with the horse in front of him and tumbled to the ground.

Two of the horses behind then took a tumble too, with one getting back to his feet and continuing to run along the track, while the other got up and began to run counterclockwise. Sadly, two of the horses, You Be Gator Bait and Harley Glider had to be euthanized on the track due to extensive injuries, while Dial Uncle Joey died on the track due to a broken neck from colliding with the other horses at full speed.

The three jockeys and one reporter that were injured suffered from broken bones, sprains, a pneumothorax injury, and significant bruising, however all were able to recover from their injuries. As for the horses that lost their lives that day, it was a tragic ending to a much anticipated event.

Barbaro injury – May 2006

Barbaro was a champion American thoroughbred racehorse who was involved in a life changing injury just weeks after winning the 2006 Kentucky Derby. Barbaro was competing in Preakness Stakes which was a race that would unfortunately end his racing career.

After a false start in the race, Barbaro suffered from three fractured bones in his right hind leg. While his owners spared no expense with his treatment, costing over $55,000 per year, the decision was finally made to euthanize the horse after it was decided he could no longer go on without pain due to complications from the break.

Overall, while US horse racing events can be incredibly exciting and are well anticipated by the masses each year, they are not without their risks to both the jockeys and the racehorses. Understanding the history of previous events can nevertheless help to make future betting decisions, as well as help race organizers to make the events safer for all.


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