QUEENS, N.Y. (CN) - A horse exerciser suffered a fractured spine and brain injury because a trainer threatened to fire him if he did not work in "extremely dangerous" track conditions, the man claims in Queens Supreme Court.
Juan Rodriguez says he told a training assistant for defendant Contessa Racing that the track at Aqueduct Racetrack was "exceptionally poor and dangerous" on the morning of Oct. 26, 2006. Nonetheless, he says, he was ordered to exercise AccountForTheGold, owned by defendants Winning Move Stable and Harold Lerner.
Rodriguez says he was told, "You get on that horse and ride or you're fired and I'll get somebody else."
AccountForTheGold lost his footing between poles 7 and 8, and Rodriguez suffered disabling injuries, he said.
Rodriguez says Aqueduct has a "well-documented" history of poor track conditions that cause injuries and death.
The 2008 Cigar Mile ended with 7-year-old filly Wandering Boy being euthanized after tripping near the same pole where Rodriguez was hurt.
"The head of maintenance at [Aqueduct] has publicly admitted that the track is in poor shape, but there is no money to repair the track," Rodriguez says.
Rodriguez claims that the trainer and the stable were fined for not listing him as an employee, which prevented him from collecting workers' compensation for his "grave" injuries.
He seeks compensation for his injuries, lost wages and inability to work, and also sued the horse's New York Racing Association.
He is represented by Frank Panetta with Massimo & Panetta.