Don Rice Injured in Horse Mishap
Photo: Tom Cooley
Don Rice
Eight-time Tampa Bay Downs leading trainer Don Rice was hospitalized in critical condition after he was apparently kicked in the head by a horse at his Central Florida farm.

Rice, 72, was found unconscious Jan. 3 at his Antigo Ranch farm near Anthony, according to the Ocala Star-Banner newspaper. Although it was reported no one witnessed the incident, Rice’s son-in-law, Patrick Hoppel told local law authorities he believes the trainer was leading a horse into a field, and was kicked in the head after the horse was startled by two colts already located there.

Authorities said a woman named Linda Hayes found Rice at 7 a.m. near a barn, where he was surrounded by horses, the Star-Banner reported. Rice was taken to the Shands at the University of Florida Hospital in Gainesville.

Rice won eight training titles in 11 years at Tampa Bay Downs starting with the 1994-1995 meeting, earning his last during the 2004-2005 meeting. He set the all-time single-season mark for wins by a trainer at the Oldsmar track with 44 during the 2001-2002 meet.

The trainer is credited with 1,119 wins from 8,582 starts with $5,967,155 in earnings since 1976, according to The Jockey Club Information Systems. Rice had one win in 41 starts last year, and isn’t credited with any starts in 2008.

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