County shirks responsibility for fatal horse race

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EADS, Colo. -- Earlier this month, 22-year-old jockey Jesus Munoz was thrown from his horse during a promoted event at the Kiowa County Fair.

The next week, he died from the traumatic head injuries incurred during the race.

This week, the FOX31 Problem Solvers discovered Kiowa County Commissioners have insurance for accidents at the fairgrounds, but all indications are, they are not going to let the jockey’s family utilize it.

Our investigation found Munoz had already guided three horses to wins on Saturday during the Kiowa County Fair, before his luck ran out.

Video shows Munoz laying on the dirt track after being thrown, head-first, off a horse which had smashed into the rail.

His younger sister, Brianna, tells FOX31 she is saddened, but not surprised by her brother’s death, especially given the known dangers of the job Munoz loved.

“We begged him so many times to stop. It’s something we had to get used to: the fact that he wasn’t going to. He loved horse racing so much,” Brianna told FOX31 on Monday.

The family set up a GoFundMe page to help pay for some incredible medical bills because the Kiowa County Fair Board will likely not pay a thing.

Munoz, and all the other jockeys, were required to sign a liability waiver in order to participate.

“Usually they make them sign a piece of paper that they’re responsible for any injuries or anything that happens in the place,” Brianna said. “And I spoke to his friends, other jockeys, and they signed it.”

The FOX31 Problem Solvers attempted to contact every Kiowa County Commissioner to ask why the Fair’s insurance policy could not be used for this kind of tragedy, but all declined to speak with us.

Our questions about why there appears to be no permit for the race and no state Racing Commission oversight of the event also went unanswered.

“I do want to reach out to them and speak with them, but for now that hasn’t been my concern,” Brianna told FOX31.

She said, as a little sister, she never thought she’d be the one planning her older brother’s funeral and memorial services, scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday.

She told FOX31, “It’s been tough, but I do it with love because he was a very big part of my life and even if it’s tough, I feel him. I feel his strength.”

For now, the family is only focused on honoring Jesus and his love of horse racing, but maybe later they will get some answers as to what really happened on the track.

The Kiowa County Sheriff tells the Problem Solvers his detectives are still investigating what happened.

Gov. John Hickenlooper has previously addressed the serious safety issues surrounding unregulated “match-racing” in Colorado. He has asked lawmakers to address the glaring gaps in regulation for such events in the next session.

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