PLEASANTON Flags waved at half-staff Friday at the Alameda County Fair, as jockeys solemnly paid tribute to one of their own, fallen and killed in a horse race Thursday.
Jorge Herrera, 33, one of 140 professional jockeys in the state, was known as a dedicated journeyman jockey who kept largely to himself but was considered gentle and sincere by his colleagues.
In the eighth and last race of the day Thursday, Herrera was making his second run of the afternoon when he found himself stuck in a cluster of other riders. He tried to pull out through a hole between the horses, but the gap closed too quickly his horse clipped the back legs of the horse in front of it and tumbled down, tossing Herrera to the ground headfirst at somewhere between 35 and 40 mph, professional observers said.
No animals were hurt, but Herrera was knocked unconscious and never woke up. He was pronounced dead at a hospital in Castro Valley.
Few of the 6,000 people in attendance seemed to notice anything was wrong, fair spokesman Dennis Miller said. "He fell at the farthest possible part of the track from the grandstands. I don't think anyone could even see it," Miller said Friday. "But there's going to be a pall among all the jockeys and everyone
at the track today."
A moment of silence honored Herrera before the day's racing began.
In more than 1,000 races since 2004, Herrera had won 55 times. His last win was in 2009, according to the professional jockey website www.equibase.com. In his nine years as a pro, he earned almost $680,000, though in recent years his annual earnings had dwindled. His race earnings were just $4,590 so far this year, the site said.
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