(from Emerald Downs release)
Hector Ventura Jr., a former jockey at Emerald Downs racetrack in Washington, was found dead of an apparent drug overdose, according to a spokesman from the Auburn Police Department.

Ventura, who would have been 32 on Dec. 19, was discovered slumped over the wheel of his vehicle in the parking lot of an Auburn restaurant at 2 p.m. on Dec. 5. According to paramedics summoned to the scene, Ventura had been dead at least 48 hours before discovered.

Sgt. Scott Near of the Auburn Police said an autopsy would be performed, but said foul play was not suspected in Ventura’s death. He said there was evidence that “narcotics were ingested.”

A native of St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, Ventura won with 365 of 2,902 career mounts with earnings of more than $3.1 million. His final victory was at Turf Paradise near Phoenix last January. He missed the 2007 Emerald Downs season due to weight and health issues, although he continued to work mornings as an exercise rider.

Ventura’s best season at Emerald Downs was 2006 when he tied for eighth in wins with 37. He teamed with Handy N Bold to win four stakes at Emerald Downs in 2000-01.

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