Teen horse exercise rider died ‘doing what he loved to do,’ brother says

The brother of a Venezuelan exercise rider who died Saturday morning in Florida said he was following his dreams of becoming a jockey when he was killed.

“He was a kid with a great attitude and this was the start of that dream,” Oldsmar jockey Manny Jimenez said as he translated for Darwin Quintero. “His brother is sad what happened, of course, but he was happy that he was doing what he loved to do.”

Daniel Quintero, 19, died while galloping a horse at the Tampa Bay Downs. The local sheriff’s office said they were called to the racetrack around 7 a.m. for reports of a man down, and paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene.

Daniel had been working at the facility for six weeks, where people recognized his passion and enthusiasm, according to an online statement. 

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Daniel Quintero

Daniel Quintero (Tampa Bay Downs)

Darwin and his father Ivan Quintero, a 45-year-old mechanic and welder from Miami, arrived in Oldsmar late Saturday after learning of Daniel’s passing. Daniel’s mother, Jaquelys Rivera, lives in Caracas. An older brother, Diego, resides in Colombia, and a sister, Samantha, and another brother, Juan Pablo, live in Venezuela.

“He tried to do things right and was very dedicated,” Ivan said. “He was a good friend, a very good kid and an excellent son.”

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Jockeys and their valets observe a moment of silence in honor of 19-year-old exercise rider Daniel Quintero, who died this morning in a training accident.

Jockeys and their valets observe a moment of silence in honor of 19-year-old exercise rider Daniel Quintero, who died this morning in a training accident. (Tampa Bay Downs)

Ivan came to the United States about a year ago. Daniel and Darwin also arrived in Florida last year, and Daniel started working at Palm Meadows Training Center in Boynton Beach before coming to Tampa Bay Downs.

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“He was still learning, but there was nothing bad about that. He was interested in learning and getting better,” Alberto Paico, a veteran exercise rider who also works on the Tampa Bay Downs starting-gate crew and as a jockeys’ valet said.

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