Coa presents trophy to Gulfstream’s leading rider Lopez

Eibar Coa returned to the Gulfstream Park winner’s circle on closing day Sunday to present fellow jockey Paco Lopez with a trophy to commemorate his second straight riding title.

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It was an emotional and exciting return for Coa, who broke his C-4 vertebra in a racing spill on February 18. Diagnosed by doctors as a quadriplegic after being admitted to Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood, Coa made a recovery that was deemed “miraculous” by neurosurgeon Dr. Scott Berta.

The 40-year-old veteran rider, who was released from the hospital on April 14, was able to walk into the winner’s circle Sunday for the trophy presentation as well as receive a check of $25,000 from a benefit golf tournament.

“It feels great,” Coa said, who is continuing out-patient rehabilitation. “I feel like I have a second opportunity to just be alive. I went down doing what I love to do, so just coming back to the track made my day.

“I’m glad I had the opportunity to come back before Gulfstream ends, because it’s one of the tracks I love the most. With all the support from my wife Rebeca, my family and friends, this is all I need.”

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