Steve "Cowboy" Hamilton, who made a successful return to the saddle in October after nearly a year off, will be sidelined four to six weeks after cracking his vertebrae and breaking ribs on both sides of his body in an automobile accident Dec. 22.
"I am OK," said Hamilton, who has 1,217 career victories. "It could be a lot worse. The injury is in the seventh cervical vertebra. The doctor said if you are going to break your neck this is the best place to do it."
Among the top five riders in Maryland during the 1990’s, Hamilton was out of racing in 2001, 2002 and 2003 while working on the oil fields in his native Oklahoma. He returned in January 2004 and won the Pimlico spring riding title. The following year he rode Malibu Moonshine in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) and captured another riding crown at Old Hilltop but decided to take off the balance of 2005 after Maryland Million Day.
The 33-year-old rider officially retired for a second time in March 2006 but returned to race riding Oct. 6 and visited the winners’ circle 18 times during Laurel Park's fall meet, including a pair of added money races.