Those who knew him say Jorge Herrera died doing what he loved and that he most certainly would have wanted the races to go on. A lone horn played the national anthem, then jockeys and trainers gathered for a moment of silence. It was a somber start to a day of racing at the Alameda County Fairgrounds where a day earlier, Herrera was thrown from his horse and died from head injuries.
"I still feel sick to my stomach," Steve Boeder said. He and his wife were there for the eight race Thursday when Herrera's horse "Morito" appeared to stumble. "I saw the horse running. I go 'Where's the jockey?' It just feels terrible."
Herrera was taken to Eden Valley Medical Center where he later died. "Having watched numerous replays myself, it sure does appear it was his own horse that hit him, that trampled him," Race Director Dennis Miller said. Herrera had been racing for about six years. He had 56 wins in just over 1000 races.
Despite Thursday's tragedy, there was a full card of eight races at the fairgrounds Friday afternoon. Five of them featured veteran jockey Russell Baze, who knew Herrera. "He was a real nice, quiet guy, never made any trouble. Good little rider. I'm sure if Jorge was here today, he'd say, 'Hey, go on with the races. Don't let this stop you,'" he told ABC7 News.
The fourth race at the Alameda County Fairgrounds on Sunday will be dedicated to Herrera.