Updated on 09/17/2011 10:55PM

Dead rider had been warned


Emanuel Jose Sanchez, the 22-year-old apprentice jockey who died Saturday after being admitted to the hospital with signs of dehydration, had been warned by stewards at Colonial Downs about his weight-loss tactics five weeks before he died, the executive director of the Virginia Racing Commission said on Monday.

The warning came on June 20, according to Stanley Bowker, the racing commission's executive director and the chief steward of Colonial Downs. Bowker said that Colonial stewards had issued the warning after track officials noticed that the rider was struggling to return to the winner's circle after he won the first race of his career on June 19.

"As the horses were pulling up around the turn, the outrider called up to us and said that he was having some problems," Bowker said Monday. When Sanchez got off the horse, said Bowker, "it was a struggle for him to weigh in, and then before he went back in he had to sit down to catch his breath."

Bowker said that stewards and other riders had advised Sanchez about how to monitor his weight without resorting to drastic weight-loss measures. Bowker also said that stewards threatened to suspend Sanchez's license if they received any other reports about the rider struggling physically.

"It was a one-day-only thing, where you just want to talk to the guy and give him some advice, and we hadn't heard anything else until what happened on Friday," Bowker said. "We didn't realize he was still having a problem."

Sanchez died Saturday morning at Richmond Community Hospital after slipping into a coma Friday night. According to some officials, Sanchez was found lying in the shower in the jockeys' room following a fourth-place finish in the fourth race. He was examined by track physicians before being placed in an ambulance.

Sanchez, a 10-pound apprentice who was a native of Puerto Rico, rode at 114 pounds on Friday, when the temperature in Virginia was in the mid-90's. He had 1 win from 24 career mounts at the time of his death. Fourteen of those mounts came at Colonial, which opened its summer meet on June 17.

A medical report on Sanchez's death is pending and would not be available until at least Tuesday, a representative of the chief medical examiner's office in Richmond said on Monday.

Bowker also said that the commission has opened an investigation into Sanchez's death, but that a report would not be available until after the autopsy is released.