Former jockey Anthony Dlugopolski, a quadriplegic since a racing accident in 2002, died in a hospital near his home in Manchester, W.V., of an apparent heart attack early Thursday morning, his sister Theresa who lived with and cared for Dlugopolski reported. He was 60-years-old.
“It was sad,” she said. “I can’t believe it happened. But he hated sitting around the house all the time. He had a rough life. He had to take a lot of medicine, which was not easy. He hated it that someone had to take care of him all the time.”
In a 25 year career, spent mainly in Ohio and West Virginia, Dlugopolski rode 25,428 races and won 3,425. For many years he exercised horses early mornings at Mountaineer drove to Pittsburg International Airport where he loaded pallets onto airplanes until 5 p.m., then rushed back to ride races at night. He suffered a myriad of injuries and during the stretch drive of a race on a bitter cold December day at Mountaineer when a horse in front of him clipped heels and fell. His mount hit the horse’s legs and also fell, driving his C3 vertebrae in his spinal cord and leaving him little mobility below his neck.
Last June, he and Theresa traveled to Parx, where he joined five other permanently disabled former jockeys as honorees at a Jockeys and Jeans fundraising event to raise funds for the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund. Along with some 60 other permanently disabled former jockeys, PDJF helped him with a $1,000 monthly stipend which he used to pay for his van.
Divorced for six years from his wife Pam, he has two children Chad and Nichole and four grandchildren. A funeral Mass is set for Tuesday at noon at Arners Funeral Chapel. Viewing will be Sunday 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. and 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.