Jess C. Meche, a 21-year-old exercise rider at Delta Downs racetrack in Vinton, La., died in a training accident on the evening of April 11.
Meche, from Church Point, La., was killed when the Quarter horse Czech Revolution fractured both front legs, throwing the rider to the ground. The horse landed on Meche's head and upper body. He was pronounced dead at the scene, according to a statement from the Louisiana State Racing Commission.
Czech Revolution was owned by Craig Lager and trained by M. Heath Taylor, who in September 2012 was suspended five years and fined $10,000 by the Louisiana State Racing Commission for a dermorphin positive at Delta Downs last May 25. Dermorphin, also known as frog juice because it originally came from a secretion from South American tree frogs, is a powerful pain killer classified as a Class 1 drug by the Association of Racing Commissioners International. Class 1 drugs are considered performance enhancing substances and the most dangerous by the RCI and serve no therapeutic use in horses.
Taylor, a leading trainer in the Quarter horse business, obtained a stay of his Louisiana suspension, as did Alvin Smith Jr. (suspended 10 years); John Darrel Soileau (10 years); Alonzo Loya (five years); Kyi Lormand (three years); Anthony Agilar (six years); and Gonzalo Gonzales (three years). Only Keith Charles, among the eight trainers suspended in Louisiana for having a horse in their care test positive for dermorphin, accepted the penalty without filing an appeal.
Taylor ran four horses on the Delta Downs opening-night program Friday and has five entered Saturday night. He's won 10 races from 26 starts in the U.S. this year after finishing seventh in the national standings in 2012, with 70 wins from 299 starts.
Quarter horse racetracks in Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and California have used their private property rights to exclude trainers with recent Class 1 violations, including the Louisiana trainers with dermorphin suspensions. The American Quarter Horse Association also announced sanctions against the trainers with Class 1 violations, suspending their AQHA memberships and disqualifying their horses from Racing Championships or year-end honors.
Louisiana racetracks have not followed suit. Boyd Gaming, a publicly traded company, owns Delta Downs and another Louisiana track, Evangeline Downs.
Horses that suffer fatalities in Louisiana do not undergo post-mortem examination or toxicology tests.
Meche, who went to Beau Chene High School and lived in Vinton, made a post on his Facebook page three nights before he died: “Well here's goes to the DED nighttime training hours.”
An obituary said Meche is survived by his parents, Robert and Annette Faul Meche; three sisters, Robi Alaura Meche of Church Point, Myke Meche Broussard of Scott and Kasie Meche Thibodeaux of Duson; one brother, Robert “Duce” Meche II; paternal grandmother Beulah “Brun” Meche; maternal grandparents J.C. and Laura C. Faul; nieces and nephews Tanner Broussard, Charli Broussard, Zoey Meche, Trey Meche and Sebastyn Thibodeaux; as well as many aunts, uncles, cousins and horsemen everywhere.
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