Bejarano Injured in Gate Accident at Saratoga

By Claire E. Novak
Leading Kentucky rider Rafael Bejarano was injured in a starting gate accident at Saratoga prior to Monday's fifth race. With an approximate post time of 3:08pm, the race was delayed for nearly ten minutes as Bejarano's mount, the Ed Kenneally-trained filly Sadler's Charm, reared and flipped in the gate. "She was restless, so the assistant starter took hold of her and everything was okay," Bejarano said. "She was quieting down a little, but in the back, somebody pulled on her tail. She got very nervous; she just reared up and flipped over."

"Rafael's right foot was caught and bent completely in half," said his agent, Joaquin Ferrer. The jockey initially thought the ankle was broken, due to a "loud cracking noise" that he heard during the incident. Assistant starters removed the horse and rider from the gate, and Bejarano was transported via ambulance to nearby Saratoga Hospital.

While x-rays showed no breakage, doctors stated that ligament damage is possible. "It is very painful," Bejarano said, "but I am so thankful that nothing is broken. I prayed to God that it wouldn't be broken, and I believe that everything works out for good if you have faith."

"This is such a good kid, such a talented rider," said racetrack chaplain Humberto Chavez. "His first question when we got to the hospital was 'What happened to my horse? Is she okay?'"

"We're going to take every action necessary to get him back one hundred percent," the jockey's agent said.

An MRI is scheduled for Tuesday morning, and while complete recovery time is uncertain, doctors say there is a possibility Bejarano may return to riding as early as next week.