Two jockeys are fine—but their horses are not—after a head-on collision at California's Del Mar racetrack. The two horses died from broken necks after one made a U-turn during a training run around 6:45am Thursday—just the second day of the 2019 Del Mar racing season, reports NBC San Diego. Charge A Bunch, a 2-year-old colt ridden by jockey Geovanni Franco, collided with 3-year-old gelding Carson Valley, ridden by jockey Assael Espinoza, who was taken to a hospital with a mild back sprain but is expected to be back riding this weekend, reports the Los Angeles Times and Sports Illustrated. Del Mar Thoroughbred Club director Joe Harper tells NBC "there was no outside influence to make these horses do what they did."
"Young horses do silly things. … They are more prone to accidents," a vet with the California Horse Racing Board tells the Times, noting "safety protocols were followed." "Sometimes freak accidents occur that are beyond anyone's ability to control," adds Carson Valley's trainer, Bob Baffert. The Times reports Del Mar had "the lowest fatality rate of any major track in the country" last year. Still, Harper expected the crash to get plenty of attention after a slew of horse deaths at Santa Anita. PETA called for an investigation within hours. "Saying that deaths are inevitable in racing is like saying a swim team can't compete without drowning," the nonprofit says. "If racing can't be done without horses dying, it shouldn't be done at all." (Read more horse racing stories.)