Horse takes left turn out of gate, jock lands in parking lot

The Associated Press

DEL MAR, Calif. (AP) -- Wild Verse took a hard left shortly after the start of a race at Del Mar and wound up jumping a rail and hedge. His jockey landed in a dirt parking lot.

The incident occurred in Sunday's fourth race at the seaside track north of San Diego. Neither horse nor rider was injured.

After jumping a rail and hedge alongside the chute that leads to the main track, the 3-year-old gelding trained by Peter Miller galloped away in the area east of the show horse arena and satellite wagering facility. Miller said Monday it took at least 20 minutes to catch Wild Verse and return him to the barn.

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Heriberto Figueroa, an 18-year-old apprentice jockey, lost his left stirrup when Wild Verse was bumped coming out of the starting gate. Out of the saddle and sliding down the left side of Wild Verse, Figueroa was in danger of winding up underneath the horse and possibly being kicked or stepped on.

Del Mar steward Luis Jauregui, a former jockey, says Figueroa pulled on the left rein for support and got back on top of the horse. But that action pointed Wild Verse's nose to the rail. He jumped it and nearly cleared the hedge while sustaining cuts and scrapes.

Figuerora was examined by medical personnel and cleared to ride his other scheduled mounts.

Miller says Figueroa made a rookie mistake in not having his feet in the stirrups going into the gate.

''It went downhill from there,'' the trainer said. ''I've told him about that before. Maybe now he'll listen.''

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