Hall of Fame jockey Victor Espinoza talked Thursday about his recovery after a devastating fall that fatally injured the horse he was riding.
“I’ve fell many times before but not like this one,” Espinoza said Thursday.
Espinoza, 46, suffered a fractured vertebra in his neck on July 22 while riding Bobby Abu Dhabi during morning workouts at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club.
Track officials said the horse collapsed and Espinoza was thrown off.
The legendary jockey said when a horse is having trouble, often the jockey gets some warning.
This was not the case that Sunday morning.
"This time he just 'Poof.' Disappear," Espinoza said.
He recalled the first moments after the fall, he could not feel one of his arms and both of his legs.
“Right away, the click in my brain, ‘Wow what happens,’” he said. “I don’t feel no pain, nothing but I cannot move my body.”
“When Victor arrived and had some weakness in his arms and legs, the concerns were, was it coming from the spinal cord,” his doctor said. “After they did the X-rays and MRI's what they found there were a couple of areas of concern.”
Espinoza suffered a fracture of the spine bone right next to the artery that provides blood to the brain. So medical staff feared for the potential of a stroke.
Espinoza’s doctor said the jockey’s injuries certainly could have been worse when you take into account where the injury was located on the spine.
“A hit slightly turned one way or a little bit harder or if he fell at a slightly different angle, things could have certainly been a lot worse,” the doctor said.
There was some increased pressure in the spinal cord that resulted in weakness and numbness in his limbs. However, the jockey's recovery is going well, his doctor said.
“My first focus is getting better,” he said. “I think about it every day.”
He said he will get back to racing when he’s completely healed.
As for what he's going to do after his hospital stay, Espinoza said the first thing he’d like to do is throw a party at his home.
Espinoza rode American Pharoah to capture the Triple Crown in 2015. Two years later, he was inducted in the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.
His career, which began in 1992 in Mexico City, has resulted in more than 3,300 wins.
He's one of only 10 jockeys with three or more Kentucky Derby victories and one of eight to win the Preakness at least three times, according to the Hall of Fame.
Espinoza will miss the rest of the Del Mar season that ends Sept. 3.
Bobby Abu Dhabi, a 4-year-old horse, died in the incident.