An Ohio State Racing Commission investigation has ruled the Nov. 16 racing accident that killed 16-year-old apprentice jockey Josh Radosevich at Beulah Park unpreventable.
Two commission investigators interviewed 29 people, including jockeys, trainers, the starter, assistant starters, and other employees at the Grove City racetrack. The commission also ordered a necropsy on the 4-year-old Nyoka just after he broke down in the $3,500 claiming race, and also tested the gelding's blood.
"We did a very intensive investigation of the accident," OSRC chairman Norm Barron said Dec. 16, a day after the report was released. "I had ordered a necropsy 15 minutes after the event, and the results showed the horse had no nerve damage. It reflected that he just shattered a cannon bone. It's part of racing."
Blood tests showed no evidence of unauthorized medication, Barron said. Nyoka raced on Salix as permitted under Ohio regulations.
Barron said OSRC investigators also spoke to the Beulah Park track superintendent and others about the condition of the racing surface, which was muddy at the time of the accident. "It was pretty much unanimous agreement the track was safe," he said. "It's winter racing."
Radosevich, son of Beulah Park-based trainer Jake Radosevich, had won 19 races in a little more than a month, 14 at Beulah Park and five at Mountaineer Race Track & Gaming Resort in West Virginia. Though 16, many observers said Josh Radosevich had natural ability and rode in form well beyond his years.
"The fact he was a 16-year-old had nothing to do with the accident," Barron said. "I watched the replay many times. He was riding a good race and was in perfect riding position. The horse just snapped a leg and went down. (Radosevich) wasn't stepped on by other horses; he died from the trauma of a broken neck, and he was wearing the appropriate safety equipment."
Though Barron believes age wasn't a factor, the OSRC likely will change the minimum age for a jockey to be licensed from 16 to 18, he said. The commission's safety committee has recommended the change, which will be discussed at a public hearing Dec. 22.
Barron said he spoke to the other regulators at the recent University of Arizona Symposium on Racing and Gaming and found "there seems to be a national movement to move it up to 18." He said he spoke to others who believe 16 years of age is an acceptable minimum.
"I truly believe it wouldn't have mattered who was on that horse--the result would have been the same," Barron said. "But I still think it's time we looked at (the minimum age). We'll listen to input at the appropriate time and consider changing it."
Radosevich, a third generation horseman who had years of experience with horses at the track and his family's Grove City farm, won his first recognized race aboard Geist Buster Oct. 14 at Beulah Park. However, on Labor Day at the Van Wert County Fair in northwestern Ohio, he rode in two unsanctioned Thoroughbred races and won one race, the 1 1/2-mile "Derby," on the half-mile track regularly used for harness races.
Radosevich's grandfather, Joe, was a trainer, and his uncle, Jeff, currently a trainer at Thistledown in Ohio, began his career as a jockey. Through Dec. 15, Jeff Radosevich led the Thistledown training standings with 44 wins, and Jake Radosevich topped the Beulah Park standings with 22 wins.