By Greg Douglas – Dr. Sport


SCENE & HEARD: Jeffery Burningham tried to get to see fellow jockey Jose Asencio at Vancouver General Hospital this past Monday morning. “By the time I got there,” Burningham says, “they had already taken him to surgery.”

Burningham, 45 in a couple of weeks, had a message for Asencio, the 20-year-old apprentice jockey who was involved in a horrific spill aboard McCallum in Sunday’s fifth race. Asencio suffered a broken back and broken leg, among other serious and painful injuries.

“I wanted to tell him to keep his spirits up,” Burningham said. “I broke my back riding at Louisiana Downs in 2011 and it took me two years to recover.  So I know the dark path Jose will have to walk.  I wanted to say to him:  ‘Don’t give up.  Don’t give in.’”

Burningham once went head-first into a steel post during a race that resulted in him suffering a collapsed lung and five broken ribs. Another time his horse clipped heels and fell, two others came over the top of him and he ended up breaking his pelvis for a second time in three years.

“Jose is a good kid who was just coming into his own,” Burningham says. “I know his spirits will be frayed and I know the despair he will go through.  They are not one in the same … they are two different things.”

Two races following Asencio’s accident Sunday Burningham was aboard Venetian Mask and won the $50,000 John Longden 6000. But the celebration wasn’t what it should have been.  The veteran jockey was more concerned about his young comrade, as were all the other warriors in the jock’s room.

Editor’s Note: Jockey agent Ryan Deyotte has organized a GoFundMe campaign to support Jose Mariano Asencio. More details are available at