Jockey Jorge Torres was critically injured on Nov. 13 when the horse he was riding fell in the $25,000 hurdle stakes for 3-year-olds at the Colonial Cup in Camden, S.C.
An apprentice jockey, the 25-year-old Torres suffered a severe concussion, a broken pelvis and fractures in his back and was airlifted to Palmetto Richland Memorial Hospital in Columbia. At press time, he had not regained consciousness and remains on a ventilator.
The horse, owner-trainer Rafael Fernandez’s Class Moon, was not injured.
A Mexican national, Torres has made a living breaking and exercising horses in Florida and in South Carolina. He made the switch from flat racing to steeplechasing last year.
“He didn’t just decide to get on and jump hurdles one day,” said Richard Boucher, who’s worked with Torres for about six years. “We were doing everything to educate him, and he was learning and doing it properly. He’s ridden in several point-to-points and sanctioned races.”
Torres had finished fourth with Class Moon over hurdles at the Aiken Steeplechase (S.C.) on Oct. 30.
Doctors are waiting for Torres to regain consciousness on his own. “They don’t want to force him to wake up,” Boucher said. “He became agitated when they tried, and the numbers shot up with the probe they have in his head to monitor swelling. The doctors have checked his involuntary reflexes in his legs and arms, and he responded so they do not think has any paralysis. We will just have to wait and see.”
Torres started racing at steeplechases in April of 2009 at the Fairfax Hunt Point-To-Point (Va.). He’s had 12 starts on the flat and over fences and ridden for trainer Jonathan Sheppard, Boucher and Boucher’s wife Lilith.
“A fall like this could happen to any one of us,” Boucher said. “It’s even more unfortunate that it happened to a jockey who was just starting his career.”