Unfortunately jockey Jose Luis Flores has succumbed to his injuries sustained last Monday in a spill at Parx.
Although it had been widely spread on social media, by both racing officials and fellow riders that Jose had passed last Monday or Tuesday he was actually kept alive through life support until yesterday. He did not regain consciousness at any point nor did he have any brain activity.
I’ve already written how well liked and respected Jose Luis Flores was by everyone who was in contact with him. He is a sad loss to the Sport of Kings and will be remembered for not only his riding but for being a kind helping man whose passion for this game was as strong as any of ours.
I originally wrote this in honor of young Juan Saez who was also taken from us in a tragic accident way too soon. It has now become a Past the Wire tribute to riders.
Suppose there was a job for you. A job dangerous enough that an ambulance would follow you around at work. Dangerous enough that you will have a hard time getting health insurance. Life insurance? Well most agents will laugh at you. You’d have to work pretty much seven days a week, including holidays. There is no paid vacation, no vacation at all actually. You’ll have no sick days either. You won’t have a contract, or any guarantee. If you do get sick, or worse hurt, you may lose all the business you have worked for and built up. Accordingly, you can expect to work sick and even hurt. You won’t know how much money you will make either, it can be a lot, if you are consistently among the best at what you do. If you slack however, or have a lot of off days you won’t make much money at all; however, the danger and all those other perks will remain constant. You’ll have to pretty much give up normal meals. Your weight will be monitored to the pound closer than a Cirque De Solei dancer. Words like flipping, purging, and puking will be part of your regular vocabulary. Although you will have to watch every morsel of food, you will also have to stay very fit and in top shape always. Your days will start before the sun rises and finish as it sets but you will still need to find time to work out. After all, you will be expected to control, with precision, animals racing in close quarters at high speeds, that weigh 1100 or 1200 pounds more than you do. Yes, some of them can be wild and unpredictable.
You will always have to watch your liver and kidneys. Besides being banged around constantly, your diet and lifestyle are not very conducive to their staying healthy. You’ll have to be resourceful too, like thinking of things like driving to and from work in a sweat suit with the heat blasting. You have to keep those pounds off. Napping whenever you have 15 minutes will sound like a great idea with your grinding schedule and there is no off season. If you are not used to almost constant criticism it would be a good idea to become very familiar with it. You will be second guessed all the time for split second decisions you make almost instinctively. People who have never dieted, let alone sat on a racehorse, will call you names and blame you for their losing bets. Trainers will be your best friends when you win but some won’t even let you bring donuts by the barn when you lose.
Despite all this, you will have one of the most rewarding careers in the world. You will regularly be at one with the graceful, magnificent and majestic thoroughbred racehorse. You’ll be cheered, revered, and respected by your peers and those who know and understand the Sport of Kings. Those same people who jeered you when you lost will applaud you and marvel at your skill when you win. You will be a fierce competitor and part of a fraternity and family that you will never leave. You, at all of a hundred and ten pounds, will be pound for pound one of the strongest athletes in the world. You’ll be part of history and greatness. You’ll strive to participate in the greatest two minutes in sports, The Kentucky Derby, and who knows, you may even win it. It doesn’t sound so bad all of a sudden.