Jockey Jose Flores was officially pronounced dead at 12:42 p.m. Thursday, three days after a "sickening" accident in the ninth race at Parx Racing in Bensalem.
When Flores came out of the starting gate Monday, it was ride No. 28,684 in a career that was among the very best in the history of Pennsylvania horse racing. The jockey, 56, was riding 14-1 shot Love Rules in a 6-furlong race. Just three weeks before, Flores had won a race on Love Rules by 4 lengths. Monday, horse and rider were on the lead when, with absolutely no warning, the horse went down and Flores was off, hitting the ground headfirst.
Nobody will ever know for sure, but it's likely that initial shock was the cause of the massive cranial damage that caused his death after he was placed on life support at Aria Frankford Torresdale Hospital.
"It's unbelievable, just sickening," said Scott Lake, the all-time leading trainer at Parx and a man who has known Flores since 1991 when they both getting started at Penn National. "He was just tremendous, a nice guy, always a professional."
Flores won 4,650 races in a career that began in 1987. His mounts won more than $64 million. His longtime agent, Dave Yanuzzi, is certain Flores would have been at more than 5,000 wins had he not suffered several serious injuries in the last 3 1/2 years.
When Yanuzzi asked Flores whether he wanted to keep going after his last previous injury, the jockey told him: "You don't understand. I love this. What else would I do? Where else would I go?"