Jockey Maria Alejandra Bruzual died after colliding with a railing mid-race in a tragic crash.
The Venezuela, 43, was riding favourite Sun Cab at the La Rinconada track on Saturday (October 14) when the fatal incident occurred. Her horse had started the race as normal but soon began veering to the far right of the dirt track.
Despite her best efforts, Maria couldn't regain control and after managing to stay mounted round the bend, she then slipped to her right. Sun Cab continued running full pelt and Maria smashed into the outside rail at high-speed, snapping round and falling to the ground.
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She was treated on the scene by medical officials and taken to hospital, where she died of her injuries. All scheduled races at the racecourse on Sunday were cancelled for a day of mourning.
Maria's compatriot Sonny Leon, who won the Kentucky Derby last year on Rich Strike, led the tributes to her. He wrote on social media: “How sad for all of us equestrians who know you Maria. Rest in peace friend, may God have you in Glory."
The Venezuelan racing authority issued a statement which read: “With great regret, the National Institute of Racecourses fulfils the painful duty of reporting the death of the jockey Maria Alejandra Bruzual in an accident that occurred today, Saturday, October 14, 2023 at the National Racecourse of Valencia.
“It is a very hard moment for Venezuelan sport, as it is a sister, a friend, a daughter, a valuable woman of Venezuelan horse racing. Our deepest words of condolences to family and friends in the face of such irreparable loss.”
In footage shared on social media, Maria had been seen smiling on board Sun Cab before what turned out to be the final race of her 17-year career. She'd quit her job as a business administrator to pursue her dream of being a jockey.
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