What could have turned into a disaster proved to be a fortunate near-miss prior to the start of Friday’s sixth race at Betfair Hollywood Park.
Just before the start of the mile and one-sixteenth turf race, Ashley’s Bambino lunged and broke through the gate, tossing jockey Alex Bisono and dragging Kyle Lopez, a member of the gate crew, several feet through the air.
Bisono escaped injury, but Lopez was lying on the grass in front of the gate in apparent pain. According to Kyle’s sister, Angel Lopez, a placing judge at Betfair Hollywood Park, her brother suffered minor bruises and was a little sore. Precautionary X-rays were negative and Kyle was back at work Saturday afternoon, much to the relief of his father, John and brother, John E., who also work on the gate crew.
For his part, Ashley’s Bambino took off and kept running, and running, and running. After three complete laps on the turf course, the 5-year-old took a left-hand turn and sped into the infield. He then darted around the rim of the north lake and started zig-zagging while running along the inside of the turf rail.
He finally came to a stop after exhaustion set in and meekly walked up to the outrider.
“People don’t realize how dangerous that situation is,” said Ashley Bambino’s trainer, Pete Eurton. “It was a good day, in my mind, because nobody was seriously injured. The horse came away with only minor scratches, but he must have lost 40 to 50 pounds and was dehydrated.”
Eurton indicated he’ll alter the Unusual Heat gelding’s immediate training schedule. “I probably won’t put a saddle on him for a couple of weeks, said Eurton. “He won’t work again for about six weeks.”
PEREZ FOLLOWING IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF GUTIERREZ
Using the template of Kentucky Derby and Preakness winning jockey Mario Gutierrez, Fernando Perez is hoping to make a fast impression in the Betfair Hollywood Park rider colony.
Like Gutierrez, Perez is Mexican-born and began his career in Canada. Both were leading rider at Hastings Park. Perez, 27, had his best year in 2009, when he topped the Hastings standings with 107 victories.
Perez started with a bang, guiding Full Consent to a front-running victory in the first race of the Autumn meet and his first-ever ride at Betfair Hollywood Park.
Three races later, Perez’ mount, Too Obvious, was nipped on the wire by the favorite, Eddie’s Curl. Eddie Curl’s rider? You guessed it—Mario Gutierrez.
Perez tacks 113 pounds and is represented by veteran jockey agent Jim Pegram.