10/14/2014 9:06PM

Juan Saez critically injured at Indiana Grand


Apprentice jockey Juan Saez was in critical condition Tuesday night at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis after being involved in a spill that necessitated him being airlifted from Indiana Grand racetrack in Shelbyville, Ind.

Julio Espinoza, agent for the 17-year-old rider, said at 9:25 p.m. Eastern that doctors had revived Saez “about three or four times” after it appeared Saez had died at the track and that chances for survival appeared very bleak. Espinoza said Saez suffered severe head trauma and other serious injuries.

A hospital spokesperson said at 9:45 p.m. that the rider’s condition was critical.

Saez, the younger brother of well-known jockey Luis Saez, went down on the turn during the running of the eighth race when his mount, Montezuma Express, appeared to clip heels with a tiring horse in front of him, Paddy’s Note. Saez crashed to the ground, as did his mount, and the jockey may have been struck by trailing horses.

Ricardo Santana Jr., aboard Masaru, fell from his mount in a chain reaction when trying to avoid the fallen horse and rider. Saez’s mount was euthanized following the spill.

Saez, a native of Panama, had been a rising star since starting his American riding career in June at Churchill Downs. He was easily the leading jockey at the 29-day summer meet at Ellis Park and had ridden 89 winners for mount earnings of more than $2 million in his nascent career.

In a separate and seemingly unrelated incident that happened less than 10 seconds after Saez fell, one of the leaders, Platitude, broke down, unseating Marcelino Pedroza Jr. That horse also was euthanized.

According to a press release issued by Indiana Grand, Santana and Pedroza escaped serious injury.

Santana’s thoughts were for Saez in a Twitter post Tuesday night in which he stated, “Prayers for my friend and colleague Juan Saez!”

Track officials made the decision to cancel what would have been ninth and final race Tuesday in the aftermath of the spills.

– additional reporting by Marty McGee