CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. — Jockey James Thornton died Sunday, two days after injuring his head in a fall from his horse at Charles Town Races. He was 54.
Thornton of Edgewood, Md., died at Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church, Va., track spokesman Paul Espinosa said. He had surgery Friday night to relieve pressure on his brain, but his family ruled out further surgery "due to a poor prognosis," Espinosa said.
Thornton fell early during the first race Friday while riding Shifty Four in tight quarters. Another jockey, Glenn Reeder, was unable to avoid the fallen rider and also fell from his mount, Sales Book, which trampled Thornton. The horses were uninjured.
Espinosa said Thornton is best remembered for a December 1983 race in which he fell from his mount, grabbed the neck of another horse that also fell, then pulled himself into the saddle when that horse got up and rode it to the finish line.
Thornton is survived by his former wife, Roslyn, to whom he was to be remarried, and five adult daughters.
He is the third jockey to die at Charles Town. Charles Hinojosa died in 1985 and Joe Snyder in the 1950s. The track ended 61 years of live racing Sunday, citing declining attendance and wagering and the failure of voters to approve video lottery.