Jockey Jean-Luc Samyn, who was sidelined for nearly two months after cutting off two fingers in a snowblower accident, made a winning return to racing April 15 by piloting Belongs to Sheila to victory in the third race at Aqueduct (VIDEO).
Trained by Mike Hernandez, Belongs to Sheila returned $14 to win after Samyn angled the 4-year-old colt off the rail at the top of the stretch and onto to a neck victory over Majestic Hope.
“I am glad to be back,” said Samyn, whose last mount prior to the accident came on Feb. 20. “I left a winner, and I came back a winner.”
Samyn, a longtime fixture on the NYRA circuit, injured himself on Feb. 21 when the blade of the powered-down snowblower moved forward and cut off two-thirds of the index and middle fingers on his right hand. The 54-year-old rider, who said he stayed in shape by running and swimming, began galloping horses in the morning for trainer John Hertler earlier this month before getting the call to ride Belongs to Sheila.
“I want to thank Mr. Hernandez for giving me the opportunity,” said Samyn. “He told me this horse would have a chance, and he did. That was extremely nice.”
The French native has won 2,612 races over the course of his 36-year career, with more than $94 million in purses earned. He boasts more than 110 stakes victories in New York, perhaps most notably riding John’s Call to wins in the grade I Sword Dancer Invitational and grade I Turf Classic Invitational, both in 2000.