Longtime Jockey Richard Gamez died after suffering injuries in a fall from his horse during a race on Sunday in Arizona. He was 66 years old. Gamez was competing in a race at the Rillito Park Racetrack in the Tucson area when his "horse suddenly bucked him from his saddle" according to TMZ. He then hit the ground and was trampled by another horse and then rushed to the hospital.
"We are devastated to have lost a member of our Rillito family," Rillito Park wrote on Twitter. "Our deepest sympathy goes out to Richard's family and friends. Richard was a fantastic human being and a true horseman. Today we are all GAMEZ."
A number of fans responded to the statement showing their support.
"So devastating!" one fan wrote. "We were there. I'm not sure why it took so long for the ambulance to get there and to help him off of the track. Well over 10 minutes. Prayers to his family and friends. Rest In Peace."
"I was there and it was heartbreaking to see," another fan wrote. "Made me realize how dangerous horse racing can be. Knew it was serious when saw several riders on horses coming back from the scene with tears in their eyes. Deepest sympathy to his family, friends and fellow race track family."
"Godspeed," a third fan added. "God be with his family and friends. I knew him when I was a groom back in the day on the race track. He will be sorely missed."
Rillito Park Foundation President Jaye Wells told the Arizona Daily Star nothing like this has happened before at the racetrack.
"We've had jockeys get injured here before, but nothing like this," Wells said. "The accident was such that it didn't really have anything to do with his age. I'm no medical expert, but we believe the brain injury was such that he wouldn't have survived if he'd been 20."0comments
Gamez has ridden in over 1,300 quarter horse races and has won close to 200 times while earning $617,000. He originally retired from racing in 2002 but returned to action in 2018 after his wife died.
"The Gamez family is an extended family, and if people aren't jockeys, they're trainers," Wells said. "It's just amazing how broadly the Gamez family affects the horse-racing community in Southern Arizona."