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The New York Times
By JOE DRAPE
Published: January 12, 2001
The jockey Chris Antley overdosed on a lethal mixture of drugs, according to the Los Angeles County Coroner’s office, which ruled that his death last month in his home was an accident.
A coroner’s report released yesterday said injuries on Antley’s body, including his head, were probably a result of a fall while he was under the influence of the drugs.
Antley, 34, a two-time Kentucky Derby winner, was found face down in his Pasadena, Calif., home on Dec. 2, and the police initially ruled his death a homicide.
The coroner’s report attributed Antley’s death to intoxication from multiple drugs. Four drugs were found present in toxicology tests, including Clobenzorex, a weight-control drug not available legally in the United States; methamphetamine; Paxil, an antidepressant; and Tegretol, an antiseizure medication.
”He had numerous lacerations and abrasions, but they were superficial and not serious enough to be fatal,” Carrier said. ”By taking an amphetamine a person can develop a psychosis and become delusional, and that was consistent with the scene found by Pasadena police the night of the death. The heart also can develop arrhythmia from amphetamine. He was delusional and fell down inside his residence and cut and hurt himself.”
The Pasadena police concurred, releasing a statement yesterday that Antley’s death had been reclassified as an accident and that the investigation was closed. Both reports were released the same day that Antley’s wife, Natalie Jowett Antley, gave birth to the couple’s first child, a girl. She was notified in the hospital.
Dr. Louis Pena, a deputy medical examiner with the County coroner’s office, discovered the Clobenzorex tablets scattered in Antley’s home in the days after his death.
The police said Clobenzorex is well known among jockeys as a weight-control agent, Carrier said.
The rider had a history of substance abuse, including several stays at rehabilitation clinics, and fought a well-chronicled battle to control his weight. He also had been diagnosed as bipolar and fought depression and, in his final months had become isolated and delusional, according to friends and family.
Antley had a drunken-driving arrest in July. Then, on Sept. 28, in response to a phone call from his wife, the Pasadena police arrested Antley and a house guest for suspicion of drug possession after discovering a small amount of methamphetamine in his home. Charges were not filed against Antley, because the prosecutors decided that the search of his house would be inadmissible in court.
Antley, who once won nine races on a single day and rode at least one winner for a record 64 consecutive days, had not ridden since March 19.
He scored his most recent big triumph in the spring of 1999, when he guided Charismatic to the winner’s circle of the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness. He and the chestnut colt were denied the Triple Crown that June 5, when Charismatic fractured his leg in the stretch of the Belmont Stakes. Antley leapt off the back of the colt and, with tears streaking his dusty face, lifted the colt’s left leg until an ambulance arrived.
Antley was widely credited with saving Charismatic from more serious injury.