Odanis Acuna (c) Churchill Downs/Coady Photography

Trainer Kenny McPeek has set up a GoFundMe page following a tragic training accident Saturday morning at Churchill Downs that claimed the lives of veteran exercise rider Odanis Acuna and the colt he was piloting, unraced two-year-old New York Harbor.

“Odanis was one of the hardest working guys you’d ever meet; he was working the American dream,” said McPeek, who employed Acuna for nearly a decade. “He galloped for me in the morning and worked for the feed company in the afternoon.

“When he started with me he had little or nothing and he got himself pretty well setup and had been saving money,” McPeek continued. “He bought himself a car and was getting ready to buy a house. He was hard at it all day, every day. We worked together a long time and he traveled with us wherever we went. He rode a lot of my best horses for years and was a guy who could handle just about any horse you put him on. He was just a good guy and loved what he was doing. I am just sickened by this tragedy.”

McPeek set up the GoFundMe page to raise money for Acuna’s funeral expenses and to help out his wife and three children, whom Acuna was working on bringing to the United States from Cuba.