Exercise Rider Parker Buckley Dies

Exercise Rider Parker Buckley Dies
Photo: Alexander Barkoff
Parker Buckley
Former jockey Parker Buckley, an exercise rider for trainer Steve Asmussen, died Aug. 19 at Albany Medical Center in Albany, N.Y., following an Aug. 18 accident on the Oklahoma training track at Saratoga Race Course. He was 40 years old.

“The New York Racing Association was deeply saddened to learn that Parker Buckley passed away this morning,” read a statement issued by NYRA. “Our sympathies go out to his family.”

Buckley had been in coma after being injured in the accident, when he fell from his horse during morning training hours. Doctors at Albany Medical waited until his family arrived before taking him off life support.

“Parker was very passionate about his job,” said assistant trainer Scott Blasi. “He wasn’t just the kind of person who came and got on horses and left. He’d do whatever you needed him to do. He was a talented horseman.”

Buckley was the regular rider for Travers Stakes (gr. I) hopeful Pyro, having been with that runner since the beginning of his 2-year-old campaign for Asmussen. Buckley began his career as an exercise rider at Tampa Bay Downs and Oaklawn Park, then launched a race riding career at Churchill Downs in 1988. He most recently rode at Finger Lakes before joining Asmussen’s stable as an exercise rider 16 months ago.

According to The Jockey Club Information Systems, Buckley won 947 races from 7,306 mounts (13%). His runners earned more than $9.2 million and won 12 stakes.

Buckley's death was the first fatality at Saratoga since 1996, when assistant trainer Elizabeth Russello was killed in a training accident.

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