All of a sudden there is a glut of sidelined Hall of Fame jockeys in Southern California. The good news is both Laffit Picay Jr. and Julie Krone are resting comfortably, and the prognosis for both looks good.
Pincay, Thoroughbred racing's all-time winningest jockey with 9,531 victories, is back home healing from two broken cervical bones in his neck. The 56-year-old is wearing a halo to prevent him from moving and causing further damage. "Laffit is resting much better now," said Bob Meldahl, his agent, on March 10. "His spirits seem good. The first couple of days with the halo were kind of a shock, but he's sleeping better now, so it's a better situation."
Pincay was injured at Santa Anita March 1 when his mount, Trampus Too, fell. He was initially thought to have muscle contusions, but the injury proved far more serious.
"It's supposed to be eight weeks (with the halo)," said Meldahl, "but he heals so fast, it could be shorter. As for the future, it all depends on what the doctors say. He loves what he's doing and that's why he's still out there. He just loves riding horses."
Krone was involved in a March 8 spill at Santa Anita, suffering fractures to the transverse process at the lumbar vertebrae L2 and L3. She was released from the hospital March 10 after being fitted for a back brace, according to her agent, Brian Beach. "She's feeling fine considering she has a lot of discomfort," Beach noted. "Besides the fractures, she has two or three compressed vertebrae in her upper back, but they are all things the doctor said will heal completely. She doesn't need surgery, and there is no spinal cord or neurological damage. It's just going to take rest.
"At this point it's indefinite, but she is absolutely planning on returning to riding. Her attitude is great; she's mad and disappointed because she is so competitive."
In a twist concerning the above two agents, jockey Mike Smith has parted company with Beach, who has represented him since the rider moved west to California, and Meldahl will now serve as his agent. "I compare Laffit and Mike because they're such good people and everyone likes them," said Meldahl, who parted company with Corey Nakatani recently after 11 years.