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Lezcano Makes Save of the Day After Tack Mishap

Rarely does a race go to plan, but even less frequently does a stirrup break, and the jockey can make a superhuman effort and get back into the tack after clinging to the horse’s neck for a furlong.

During the third race Aug. 20 at Hawthorne Race Course, that’s precisely what happened for jockey Abel Lezcano, who was riding Christmas Present in the one mile and 70-yard claiming race for owners Vincent Accardo and John Camardo.

“My plan from the start of the race was to get out in front,” Lezcano told BloodHorse with his wife, Maria Lezcano. “That was the plan, and in the first turn, I felt my foot going down. I was in shock; the stirrups were new, so I didn’t understand how or why it was breaking.”

After breaking from the gate and jumping to the front along the rail Lezcano’s stirrup failed racing around the first turn. He fell to the outside, clinging to the 5-year-old gelding’s neck. After straightening out on the backstretch, Lezcano managed to pull himself back into the tack, riding home until he could get pulled up safely by an outrider.

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“I started falling and knew I had only three options,” said Lezcano. “If I let go of the horse and fall, it will go on without me, but it could hurt other jockeys and horses behind me. Possibly the horse could get hurt if I let go; he could fall while he was loose. The second option was that if I fell with the horse, it could be bad for me and the horse. The third option was to hold on for dear life and pray that God would give me the strength to pull myself back on.”

The save came early in the day, and Lezcano, proceeded to ride the next four races, winning the seventh, a 5 1/2-furlong maiden special weight aboard Maneuver  for trainer Manny Perez on the grass.

He added: “I thank God for the strength; I have been working hard since my kidney transplant two years ago to return to being strong again.”

When Lezcano pulled up to a halt and saw trainer Brian Cook, the shock came as no surprise.

“He was pale white when I saw his face on the racetrack. He said he has to go to church after witnessing what just happened; it was believable,” Lezcano said. “He was thankful because I saved the horse from getting loose or possibly hurt.”

The graded stakes-winning jockey started riding in 2009 and has started 5,069 horses to a record of 448-552-612 with earnings in excess of $13 million. Riding for Hronis Racing in 2016, he guided Nancy From Nairobi  to the Royal Heroine Stakes (G2T) win at Santa Anita Park.

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