09/05/2014 9:33AM

Exercise rider dies in accident at Belmont

Barbara D. Livingston
Exercise rider Juan Vazquez was killed in a training accident Friday.

Juan Vazquez, an exercise rider and part-time trainer, died Friday morning from injuries sustained during a training accident at Belmont Park, according trainer Bruce Brown, who employed Vazquez.

Vazquez was working an unraced 2-year-old named named Global Warrior in company and inside of another horse shortly after the 7:30 a.m. renovation break on the Belmont training track.

Brown, who had given instructions to the riders before leaving the barn to drive his son to school, said his assistant trainer, Maria Marrone, told him that Vazquez hit his horse right-handed at about the eighth pole to get the horse to finish up the work. The horse ducked into the rail and unseated Vazquez, who landed inside of the training track.

Brown said emergency medical technicians who arrived on the scene to treat Vazquez told him they believe the rider broke his neck and died instantly. He was transported by ambulance to a local hospital.

“That’s what the thinking is,” Brown said.

Brown said Vazquez, a 39-year-old native of Mexico, had worked as an exercise rider for him for the last two years.

“Hard worker, very good, dependable, never missed a day,” Brown said. “Excellent rider.”

The Belmont training track was closed for training for the remainder of the morning as Nassau County police began an investigation into the accident, according to sources. Belmont kept the main track open until 11 a.m. for training.

Belmont Park was to open for racing Friday afternoon.

In addition to working as an exercise rider, Vazquez trained a few horses of his own. On Aug. 25 at Saratoga, Vazquez sent out Lady Luciano to a sixth-place finish in a $40,000 claiming race. John Toscano Jr. claimed Lady Luciano.

According to Daily Racing Form records, Vazquez also trained Closingtothewire and Giving Me Fitz. For his two most recent starts, both at Finger Lakes, Closingtothewire is listed as being trained by Ronald Breed Jr. but owned by Vazquez.

Vazquez is not related to Juan C. Vazquez, who trains on the Mid-Atlantic circuit.