Jody Petty, the 2005 National Steeplechase Association champion jockey, emerged from a fall at the March 5 Little Everglades Steeplechase in Dade City, Fla. with four broken ribs and a ruptured spleen.
He had surgery to remove his spleen and is recovering at Pasco Regional Medical Center in Dade City. Petty fell from Capital Peak at the second-last fence of the day's fourth race (a $20,000 allowance hurdle) at the 2006 season's first race meet. Challenging eventual winner Hip Hop for the lead, Capital Peak bobbled badly on landing and dislodged Petty.
"I tried to get head-and-head with Hip Hop before that fence, but he left me a little bit and my horse dragged his hind end," said Petty Tuesday afternoon. "It popped me out of the saddle and to the side so I was trying to stay on -- at least long enough to get my feet out of the irons. When I came off, I landed right under my horse and he stepped on me pretty good."
Petty was transported by ambulance to the hospital and will stay through March 9 at least. "Now I feel OK. About 12 hours ago, I felt terrible," Petty said. "There was a lot of pain, but it's gotten better."
As for a return date, the Elkton, Md. native half-joked about riding at the Carolina Cup April 1 but will wait on the ultimate decision. One of his first questions after surgery was, "When is Keeneland?"
Keeneland, of course, is the site of the $150,000 Royal Chase, where Petty is slated to ride 2005 steeplechase champion McDynamo April 21.
Petty, 35, led all NSA jockeys with 19 wins in 2005 and rode McDynamo to back-to-back grade I wins in the Breeders' Cup Steeplechase and Colonial Cup to clinch the championship.