Suit: Horse, scared by chicken, kills jockey at Parx

Posted: April 12, 2014

The horse, startled by a chicken roaming on the track, partially bucked off the jockey, dragged him for about 40 seconds as one foot remained in a stirrup, kicked him repeatedly, and killed him, according to a lawsuit.

On Wednesday, a Philadelphia jury found Parx Casino & Racetrack liable for nearly $8 million for the 2010 incident that claimed the life of Mario Calderon, 55, of Croydon.

Calderon suffered 11 broken ribs and bleeding in the brain, according to his attorney, Michael A. Trunk, and died shortly after being taken to a nearby hospital.

The jury found Parx negligent in failing to keep the track clear of the fowl that scared Calderon's horse, Cassidy Blue, and awarded more than $2 million to the family for wrongful death.

It also ordering Parx to pay $5 million in punitive damages, according to court documents.

Trunk said that he thought the verdict was fair, and that he hoped it forced Parx to take further steps to remove the chickens, which have been on the premises for years, according to the lawsuit.

"You don't mix up an unpredictable chicken with a thoroughbred racehorse," he said. "It can be spooked easily."

A Parx spokeswoman said the company had no comment on the verdict.

Calderon began working with horses in Ecuador in 1973, according to court documents filed by his attorney. He had ridden in nearly 1,900 races as a jockey, the documents say.

609-217-8305 @cs_palmer

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