07/13/2012 5:09PM

Letters to the Editor July 15


Rider's fatal spill feels like loss in the immediate family

Our latest loss: Jorge Herrera ("Herrera dies in spill at Pleasanton," July 8). The death of one of these brave souls is an incredible tragedy. They give their talent and effort for those of us who own horses and those who are racing fans without fear of the most horrible possible outcome. I did not know this man personally, but due to my involvement with racing for more than 40 years, I can't help feeling  connected to the event.

I will never forget, with great detail, when a young apprentice, Rodney Dickens, went down over a fallen horse at the old Sportsman's Park in Cicero, Ill. He was just behind a horse ridden by Francisco Torres. Cisco's horse broke down and Rodney's horse jumped over him. Rodney was thrown to the ground and suffered grave injuries when he was kicked in the chest by a horse. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital that afternoon. I recall observing the incident from the clubhouse with great horror. There was no doubt in anyone's mind that something tragic had just happened.

More recently, I attended the service for Eusebio (Eddie) Razo, a local jockey on the Chicago area circuit. Although his death was not race-related ("Razo dies in explosion," April 27) it was nonetheless tragic to have this 46-year-old husband, father, and fellow horseman taken away.

The casual observer, and even the avid horseplayer, has little or no concept of the family that exists on the backside. Those of us who have the privilege to be with everyone that puts on the show truly appreciate the efforts and bravery of the race riders. (That is not, though, to underplay the importance of all the other backside workers.)

When a jockey has a career-ending injury or dies as a result of injuries sustained, I truly believe we have all lost something special. My heart goes out to Herrera's immediate family and his backside family as well.

Paul Burck - Palatine, Ill.