What’s He Doing There? Horses Avoid Hitting Man On Golden Gate Fields Turf Course

by | 05.13.2017 | 11:01pm

A Golden Gate Fields employee reportedly working on the Northern California track's turf course timing system escaped serious injury in the fifth race on Friday, May 12, after erroneously thinking the race was being run on the outer main track – not the turf course.

The man was positioned in the middle of the turf course near the quarter pole during the five-furlong sprint when the field of eight fillies and mares approached. The Equibase chart stated that three horses checked, steadied or altered course to narrowly avoid hitting the man, and a fourth horse – Spring Heat, ridden by Francisco Duran – hurdled over him after he dropped to his knees and rolled to the side.


According to Daily Racing Form, the employee was taken to first aid but did not require  treatment.

Stewards conducted an inquiry but made the race official, citing a California Horse Racing Board rule stating at least half the field must be impeded in order for the race to be called “no contest.”

UPDATE: A stewards ruling issued on May 13 and posted on social media identified the man as Nixon Dang. He was fined $200 for the incident for violation of CHRB rule 1881 (Exclusion of Persons From Race Course).


  • Wixby

    What the hell are you doing?? C’mon mannnnnn!!!!

  • Gordon calhoun

    Our horse had two incidents at two different races at Colonial. First, there was a flock of geese that decided to cross the track…plowed right through them, and killed two of them. He felt bad about it and slowed down to finish 8th. On the next race, two horses in front of him clipped heels and a jockey fell off. Our horse somehow avoids the fallen jockey and goes on to brake his maiden.

  • greg

    That’s why hiring a deaf guy to mow the lawn by hand wasn’t such a great idea

  • Vickie


  • Longshot

    Your right. It is just crazy how they didn’t declare this a no contest. The jocks were more concentrated on not killing the guy than riding to win. Boo stewards

  • Charles Smith

    First off, thank God the GGF employee emerged without serious injury. Secondly, the Stewards sure seemed to be looking out for the track’s best interest in allowing the race to go official. Let me get this straight…three horses are impeded and a fourth has to outright hurdle the poor guy in harm’s way, everyone who wagered on half the field had their chances impacted, but the judges refused to do the right thing and at least declare the impeded horses non starters for wagering purposes. What a freaking joke.

    • thomr875

      I think you have come up with the best solution on how they could have ruled.

  • Bryan Langlois

    Amazing that this guy was not killed. Kudos to the jocks. I wonder if he had ear buds in or something since he seemed to almost have no idea the horses were coming.
    As far as the race ruling, while I agree perhaps the rule needs to be re-worded a little, I think the Stewards were in a no win situation there. If they declared the race a no contest, then no purse money is awarded out, which I am sure would have been appealed by the winning connections of the horse in that race, and the Board probably would have sided with the appeal. Who knows. California turf racing sure has been interesting of late. First drain covers on the turf and now a person. Turf course is looking less like a racecourse and more like a mini-golf course

    • Joe

      He wa drunk. Not the first time he has done this.

  • SteveTG

    Probably saved himself by remaining still. Very bad decision to lean on the letter of the law to declare that race official. I’m sure when the CHRB rule was written that half the field needs to be impeded it did not include the idea of a human being kneeling on the track!

    • Dan D

      8 horses in race, 3 checked, one hurdled. How is that not half the field?

      • RayPaulick

        They’re stewards, not mathematicians.

        • showhorse

          Good one.

  • whirlaway

    Knowing people I have worked with maybe he was checking his cell phone, seems like
    that needs to be done every 5 to 10 mins by numerous humans.

  • perks

    probably a former employee today.

  • Barry

    What a nightmare.

  • Richard C

    Common sense would have dictated that the race be declared a “no contest”. Oops, never mind.

  • Julie L.

    Be thankful that no person or horses were injured instead of complaining that the race was not declared a non-starter. People amaze me at times.

  • Tom Owens

    I don’t think people realize how traumatic this is for the horses. 20 years ago I bought a 2yo fillie, she was stocky, you could tell she wasn’t going to have any speed. After 7 races in the United States a friend of mine in England said he would take her, the pace may suit her better. She turned out to love 12 to 16 furlongs, and a star was born. She won first up, he rested her, then she rattled off five wins in a row, including a 60,000 pound stake race. She was on top of the world, loving the game, and as a favor he entered her in a handicap in the north. She really didn’t need to be running, but the secretary needed horses to fill or he was at risk of losing his job. The race was one of these September deals, Lads Day out or some such thing, and by the 4:40 race the crowd was hammered frat boy types. For a fiver one of them was dared to run across the track. Scared the hell out of my girl, and she stopped on a dime. She never raced again, she loved people and I swear this jackass cost her a career in racing. She went from loving every day to a deep depression, and we tried three more times over three years to get her back on the track to cheer her up but she wouldn’t leave the gate. Just stands there. To this day I wish I had beaten this drunk to a pulp, this was a happy, outgoing horse who likely died younger due to not being able to do what she loved.

    • Markie Marx

      Is this going to be a long story?

      • Tom Owens

        You can go back to your Marky Mark Coloring Book, you don’t matter

    • Lehane

      Love your story.

  • John G. Veitch

    Glad the employee is okay, but the race should have been declared a non-starter in my opinion. Also, it’s the job of Outriders to make sure a track is clear, so too for the placing judges.

    • peter punshon

      Well think the steward’s would have a better chance to see this guy then the outriders as they all have binocular’s not sitting at ground level like outriders.

      • John G. Veitch

        As I understand it, Stewards need to focus on the horses in the race, not be looking ahead 20 or 30 yards. Outriders should be strategically placed around the track so that that they can see & have one be close to any event, like this for example, or a loose horse.

  • debra medlock

    Completely agree but sometimes the track sees $$$ as a strong motive. Remember that trainwreck at Charlestown a few years back when every horse in the field except one went down after the leader broke down. Not only was the last horse standing declared the winner, but the ALL of the purse money went to him. Guess the track needed the take out.

  • Charles Smith

    Ray’s update indicates that the guy on the course had been excluded from the track. So someone had been ruled off, but not only fid he return to the grounds, but he walked onto the middle of the turf course and needed divine intervention combined with a jockey quick witted enough to turn into a steeplechase rider in order to avoid disaster. The stewards sure were quick to issue a fine, they sure were quick to make a dubious call that left the result of the race intact, too bad they did’nt pay close enough attention to notice someone had placed himself in a situation where he could have caused riders and horses to get killed.

    • Scl

      The man was an employee of the track. He wasn’t excluded from the track. The rule refers to persons being excluded from the race COURSE during the time that a race is to be run on it. In other words: don’t go onto the course (track) while horses are running on it.

  • Markie Marx

    The horses should have continued the path they were on. If the guy got bowled over, no big loss. If the guy got killed, at least his gene pool would have ended there and he would not have fathered anymore idiots like himself.

    • John Murray

      or like you.

    • Mr J


  • Eric

    It was very odd. The man was stationed right at the 1/4 pole, which I guess lends credence to the story that he was working on the timing system. The man was standing, with his back to the field, and then for some reason, without turning his head or attempting to move out of the way, he dropped to his knees, as if he was having some sort of spiritual or emotional moment.
    I’m not sure the whole story has come out.

    • Charles Smith

      Yea, it looked like he was placing himself in God’s hands…….it worked.

    • Marcelo Rivadeneira

      The guy planted himself that way intentionally. If he had tried to run he risked spooking the horses, which very well might have either veered off path and careened into him or hurt themselves or their jock.

      By planting himself like a statue he left his fate with both the jocks and the horses. He fell over like an inanimate object very slowly so as to not spook the horses, relying on any horse in his lane to either swerve around him or hop over him as the horse ending up doing. His response was methodical, a result of crisis training instructing him to do that in such a case.

      A horse sees something very still in its path and he or she either runs around it or goes over it.

      Considering his screw up he actually managed the crisis according to his training, which is the appropriate response.

      He might have even saved his job by mitigating the crisis depending on what the circumstances were that led to him being out there in the first place.

  • Lehane

    My understanding is that this worker was told that the race wouldn’t be run on this particular track. Why didn’t the stewards, officials and others present, not notice him as race was about to start? It beggars belief. Extremely lucky that no horses, jockeys or the bloke on the track were not seriously injured. Definitely the race should’ve been abandoned and rescheduled.

  • bruce alexander

    Blatant disregard for bettors. the story line indicated four horses reacted visibly which is half the field. The second factor is it was management error, not natural, from him working, to no official realizing the situation. Film patrol has elimanated patrol judges at various parts of the track.

  • McGov

    Looks like somebody was trying to find the “key to the quarter pole” ;)
    Glad nobody was hurt. Bizarre things happen in racing, that is for sure.

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