12/31/2010 2:22PM

Jockey Berrio suffers stroke

Benoit & Associates
Jockey Omar Berrio suffered a stroke following Thursday's races at Santa Anita.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Jockey Omar Berrio was hospitalized Thursday night after suffering a stroke following the races at Santa Anita.

Berrio, 42, rode Celtic Princess to a front-running victory Thursday in the seventh-race feature at Santa Anita. When he arrived home in nearby Temple City about 6 p.m., Berrio’s wife Karina suspected something was amiss.

“I saw it in his face; he said he felt weak on the left side of his body,” she said.

Karina drove Berrio to Arcadia Methodist Hospital, where he was diagnosed with having suffered a stroke.

Berrio spent the night in the hospital and late Friday morning was awaiting further examination. Karina Berrio said Friday that Omar “is doing good right now, he is talking and he understands.”

Berrio is closely aligned with trainer A.C. Avila, trainer of Thursday turf allowance winner Celtic Princess. Born in Panama City where he began riding at age 19, Berrio is a graduate of the Panama jockey school. He rode as an apprentice in Maryland and relocated to Southern California in 1990.

Berrio served a lengthy suspension in 2008 after testing positive for cocaine but resurrected his career the second half of 2009 by riding 10 winners from 95 mounts. In 2010, Berrio won 23 races from 159 mounts. Overall, he has ridden 545 winners in the United States on mounts that have earned more than $15 million.

Graded stakes wins by Berrio include the Avila-trained Made for Magic in the Grade 2 Milady this May. He also won graded stakes for Avila on River Savage and Blade Prospector.

Berrio has two sons. He and longtime girlfriend Karina have been married one year.