10/03/2017 1:59PM

Former trainer Alex Hassinger escapes harm in Las Vegas shooting

Barbara D. Livingston
Trainer Alex Hassinger and his wife, Anne, attended the Route 91 Harvest Festival on Sunday, which became the site of the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

Former trainer Alex Hassinger was grateful to be home in Texas on Tuesday after he and his wife, Anne, narrowly escaped from the mass shooting Sunday night at a concert they were attending in Las Vegas.

“It was surreal,” Hassinger told Daily Racing Form from his home in New Braunfels, Texas. “We’re very fortunate. We were right there in the middle of it.”

Hassinger and said he and his wife have attended the Route 91 Harvest Festival for several years, and this year were in the company of one of the concert’s co-founders. He said they were able to scramble into the inside of a temporary structure adjacent to the stage when the shooting began. As of Tuesday, there were 59 people listed as dead and more than 500 injured.

“They say that gunshots sound like firecrackers and that’s exactly what it sounded like at first,” Hassinger said.

After moving quickly to the temporary structure, “we were on the floor and you could hear bullets hitting the side of the building,” he said. “It was confusing. Where was it coming from? How many shooters were there? Where should we go?”

Hassinger said one of his friends suffered a minor injury to his foot when struck by a bullet.

Eventually the Hassingers were able to find a path away from the concert area, but while leaving the area Hassinger noticed some people who appeared to be sitting in place, or had other people hovering over them. He said it didn’t sink in until later just what he was looking at, the moment initially a blur of trying to survive.

He and his wife were not able to get back to their hotel until Monday morning at 5, and were on a flight home later that day.

Hassinger said he had heard from several old friends in the past 24 hours, and he became emotional saying what it meant to hear from the likes of jockey Gary Stevens, who was the best man at Hassinger’s wedding, and trainer Eoin Harty, for whom Hassinger once worked as an assistant.

Hassinger, 55, won two Breeders’ Cup races. He won the 1992 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies with Eliza and the 1999 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile with Anees. He also won the 1993 Santa Anita Oaks with Eliza, and the 1992 Spinster with Fowda. Hassinger also was the original trainer of Cigar, who subsequently was moved to Bill Mott.

After leaving the racetrack more than a decade ago, Hassinger went to work for the veterinary products company LubriSyn, for whom he is now the national sales manager.