12/07/2007 1:00AM

Jockey found dead in car

EmailJockey Hector Ventura Jr. was found dead in his car in the parking lot of Las Margaritas Restaurant in Auburn, Wash., at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, police there said. The police did not want to speculate on the cause of death, but said that Ventura had apparently died two days earlier.

Ventura, a native of St. Croix, Virgin Islands, would have been 32 on Dec. 19. Though frequently sidelined by health and weight problems, he finished among the top 10 riders at Emerald Downs four times since 2000, with his best finish coming in 2001, when he was the fourth-leading rider with 62 wins. He last rode in February of this year at Turf Paradise, and he ended his riding career with 365 wins from 2,902 mounts for $3,126,017 in purse earnings.