05/29/2003 11:00PM

Rider killed at Great Lakes


MUSKEGON, Mich. - An exercise rider was killed Friday morning in a training mishap at Great Lakes Downs. Victor M. Sanchez, 25, was pronounced dead of head injuries soon after his arrival at Mercy General Health Partners in Muskegon.

The accident occurred just before the 8 a.m. maintenance break at the track. Witness reports vary, but all agreed that Sanchez's mount, Starcheck Billy, reared and fell over, slamming Sanchez against the outer rail and wall.

Trevor Bundy, the trainer of Starcheck Billy, said that the horse had just completed his gallop and was preparing to exit the track at the gap, located by the three-eighths pole on the backstretch of Great Lakes's five-eighths-mile oval.

"He stopped to turn out and another horse kicked at him," Bundy said. "That made him rear up."

Sanchez, a native of Mexico, was then put against the shadow wall and the rail when his mount fell over. Starcheck Billy was apparently unharmed in the incident.