By JIM WELLS
There was an unexpected visitor to the jockey lounge on Sunday; then again, nothing this man does should be completely unexpected.
Scott Stevens, who nine days ago lay on the track with life threatening injuries, stopped by to say hello to his colleagues. Before he left, he apologized.
“Can you just imagine,” said Sherry Nolan, the wife of Paul Nolan who was injured in the spill as well. “Scott’s down there apologizing because he doesn’t feel up to signing autographs.”
Paul Nolan and several other riders did work the autograph table, as part of Don MacBeth Day at Canterbury Park and throughout North America.
Nik Goodwin was at the table and so, too, was quarter horse rider Cody McDaniel, who was taken to the hospital Sunday morning when a horse she was working flipped over and hit the rail, bending it and pinning her against it at the same time.
McDaniel’s horse spooked when the outrider pulled on her mount’s rope to get her moving and she flipped over backwards.
McDaniel’s right leg, elbow and foot were bruised and she was clearly still in discomfort in early afternoon as she talked about the accident. Unable to take the pain medication prescribed for her and still ride in the last two races on the card, she settled for ibuprofen and signed autographs for as long as she was able. Then she headed to the jockeys lounge to get some rest , fully intending to ride. As the afternoon wore on, McDaniel’s’ muscles continued to stiffen and she was forced to take off her two mounts.
Anywhere you care to look there are riders nursing injuries or who certainly have in the past. Injury is part of this occupation that no one escapes at some time or another.
While patrons bid on numerous racing items to benefit the Don MacBeth Memorial Jockey Fund Sunday, Jim Olson, a long-time member and past president of the Minnesota Quarter Horse Racing Assn., spoke about the need for a national effort to provide jockeys with insurance.
“It’s unbelievable that we send these riders out on our horses without any insurance,” Olson said. “It’s always baffled me that we put these riders on our horses and then say ‘tough luck, buddy’ when they get hurt.”
Olson says that the horse industry has the means to provide insurance but the riders will have to be involved as well.
Most riders can’t get insurance because of the high risk associated with their profession. Even when they can, the rates are often prohibitive.
Olson talked about the need for national unity on the matter. “All of the pari-mutuel tracks in the country would have to be part of it,” he said.
In the meantime, tracks across North America held raffles, silent auctions and other events to promote giving to the Don MacBeth Memorial Jockey Fund this weekend. The Fund assists disabled riders and those with injuries in various ways.
Canterbury Park has led the nation several times with what it collects. The fund last year raised nearly $32,000. Organizers were confident of reaching and likely surpassing that total this year. Raffle tickets for a trip to the 2011 Kentucky Derby are part of this year’s fundraiser and will be sold until the Claiming Crown on July 24, so a final figure won’t be available until then.