Jorge Torres, a promising young steeplechase jockey, died Monday, May 9, at a Columbia, S.C., hospital as a result of injuries sustained in a fall at the Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup in November.
Torres, 25, was injured in a one-horse accident when his mount, Class Moon, fell in the Raymond G. Woolfe Memorial on Nov. 13. The jockey received immediate medical treatment on the course and was flown by helicopter to Palmetto Richland Memorial Hospital, where he remained in a coma until his death.
A native of Mexico, Torres had extensive experience as a steeplechase exercise rider in the Camden area, where he has worked for such trainers as Lilith Boucher, Jonathan Sheppard, and Rafael Fernandez.
Torres was riding in his first season as an apprentice jockey. He had won a flat race at the Carolina Cup Races in Camden in March and had one third-place finish from three starts over fences. He rode Fernandez’ Class Moon to a fourth-place finish in a maiden race at the Aiken Fall meet in Aiken, S.C., on Oct. 30.
It was the first fatality related to a steeplechase race accident in more than 30 years. James Stump died as a result of a fall in a Delaware Park steeplechase race on July 19, 1977.
“We are all saddened to learn of Jorge Torres’ death,” said National Steeplechase Association President Guy Torsilieri. “By all accounts, he was well-liked and had a promising future as a steeplechase jockey.
“Sadly, this accident is a reminder of the dangers inherent in any professional sport. We take pride in our efforts to protect the well-being of our horses and riders, and to be at the forefront of safety initiatives. Always, the safety of our racing participants is our first priority.”
Lilith Boucher remembered a young man with boundless enthusiasm and devotion. “Jorge never let anyone down, personally or professionally. He was always there for you,” she said. “His enthusiasm was amazing. He was always there with a big smile.”
Boucher, who had raised funds for Torres at race meets, said he invested his time in becoming a complete horseman. “He was so committed to learning, not only as a rider but also as a horseman,” she said.
A fund has been established to defray Torres’ medical expenses. Donations to the fund can be sent to the Wachovia Bank branch in Camden. The address is: Jorge Torres Fund, Wachovia Bank, 519 E. DeKalb St., Camden, S.C., 29020.