What should have been a night of fun, smiles and laughter at the Crooked River Roundup Horse Races turned to tragedy Wednesday night.
A 29-year-old veteran jockey, Eduardo Gutierrez-Sosa, died after he was thrown off his horse in the first race of the night.
“The Crooked River Roundup Association, our hearts are broken,” said Director of Racing and Chair of Racing Committee Doug Smith.
Gutierrez-Sosa died from injuries sustained in the fall.
“For someone to lose their life for entertainment, that’s not part of what we’re here for,” Smith said. “We’re here to entertain and put on a good show.”
One more race ran after the incident, but organizers canceled the rest of the night’s races out of respect for the fallen jockey.
“We just hope that everybody in the community will keep the family of the rider in their prayers and thoughts, and our hearts are just absolutely broken,” Smith added.
Spectators began donating their ticket money to the jockey’s family and $3,500 was raised by the end of the night.
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The races are continuing as scheduled and will run through Saturday.
“Our board has elected to put donation barrels out at the front gate tonight, so if you want to come, enjoy the races, help a family in need, we’d really appreciate it,” Smith said.
Prineville Police and the State Racing Board are conducting a joint investigation.
Thursday night, fans are asked to wear the color pink, which Gutierrez-Sosa often wore, to honor his memory.
Gutierrez-Sosa is survived by his wife and three young children.