Valdivia Breaks Leg in Del Mar Spill; 'No Contest' Declared

Valdivia Breaks Leg in Del Mar Spill; 'No Contest' Declared
Photo: AP/Beth Keiser
Jockey Jose Valdivia, Jr. after winning the 2001 BC Mile aboard Val Royal.
By Claire Novak
Jockey Jose Valdivia, Jr. suffered a hairline fracture of his right tibia Sunday in a nasty spill during the first race at Del Mar.

The accident resulted in a "no contest" decision by the track's stewards, meaning that all money bet on the race – almost $1 million – was refunded. It is believed the first time a race was declared "no contest" at Del Mar, which opened in 1937.

Valdivia was thrown when his mount Thatcher broke her right front leg and went down after setting the pace for the first half of the one-mile claiming race for 3-year-old fillies.

Most of the field pulled up to avoid the fallen horse and rider. Rena de Sonora, with Corey Nakatani up, was unable to completely adjust in time and clipped the fallen jockey's right leg. Nakatani strained his back while attempting to pull up his mount and was taken off all mounts for the day. He hopes to return to racing Monday, according to agent Nick Cosato.

Valdivia, however, was transported to Scripps Hospital La Jolla.

"It's fractured just below the knee, and the doctor says it's more a soft tissue thing than anything else – really from the trauma to the area," said the jockey's agent, Brian Beach. "They put him in a splint and told him to stay off it, so he'll miss the last two days of the meet. He was pretty disappointed, since he really liked his mounts that he had coming up, but it could have been a lot worse."

Valdivia plans to return to racing during the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting.

A native of Lima, Peru, the 31-year-old jockey was slated to pilot Irish-bred Shamoan in the Del Mar Derby (gr. IIT) on Monday. A replacement rider has yet to be named. Valdivia has ridden several stakes winners, including 2004 Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) winner Castledale and 2001 Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) winner Val Royal.

In calling the "no contest," the track's stewards – George Slender, Dennis Nevin and Kim Sawyer – cited a California Horse Racing Board rule that states where interference affects the majority of the runners in a race it may be declared no contest. In the stewards' estimation, all but two of the runners had been seriously affected by the spill.

Del Mar's betting pools on the race totaled $953,832. The betting on the Pick Three and Place Pick All was not affected, with both of those bets being declared "alls," or winners, for those holding tickets.

Thatcher's injuries were so severe that she was euthanized. Another horse involved in the incident, Road Runner Robyn, ridden by the meet's leading rider, Victor Espinoza, suffered a tendon injury to her left foreleg, which was not considered life threatening. Espinoza was not injured.

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