09/25/2010 8:13PM

Jockey Mark Anthony Villa dies in Zia Park spill

Eugene O'Neill/Coady Photography
Mark Anthony Villa, winning the KLAQ Handicap at Sunland Park in 2007, died from injuries sustained in a Quarter Horse race at Zia Park.

Jockey Mark Anthony Villa, 44, died as a result of a spill in the seventh race at Zia Park on Saturday, according to a spokesperson for the Hobbs, N.M. track.

Villa’s mount, Separate Money, broke down just after finishing second in the trial race for the Hobbs America Quarter Horse Futurity and the rider was thrown to the ground. Villa was taken to nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

A memorial service for Villa was held Sunday morning at Zia Park. His burial will be in Phoenix at a yet to be determined date. Villa is survived by his wife, Krystal, and a son and daughter who are twins. They are 6.

Villa began riding in 1983. He won 1,726 races from 13,843 starts, for mount earnings of $17,360,253. Of his wins, 1,076 were with Thoroughbreds, and 648 with Quarter Horses. He was the fifth leading rider last year at Zia Park and second in the Thoroughbred standings this past summer at Ruidoso Downs.

Among his biggest wins were the Grade 1 Ruidoso Quarter Horse Derby in 2009 with eventual champion Time For a Cigar.