Castaneda Faces Long Road to Recovery

The jockey fell from her mount at Turfway Jan. 1 and underwent surgery Jan. 4.

Jockey Bonnie Castaneda has shown modest improvements since her Jan. 4 surgery to repair two broken vertebrae in her back.

According to Castaneda’s husband, Marco Castaneda, she had eight metal screws inserted into her back to hold the vertebrae in place.

“It was a very serious procedure,” said Marco, who trains Jolinda, the horse his wife was riding when she sustained her injuries.

Jolinda clipped heels with another horse, Vicki L., during the fourth race at Turfway Park Jan. 1. Vicki L., who eventually finished third under Rafael Mojica Jr., was later disqualified and placed 10th in the 11-horse field for the interference.

Marco said his wife also broke her neck and three ribs, and sustained head injuries from the spill. She received aid from a machine to breathe for the first few days, but is now able to breathe on her own.

“She is still very sore from the surgery…but yesterday she was able to walk with a lot of help from the doctors,” said Marco, adding that his wife also recently eaten on her own for the first time since the accident.

Bonnie is suffering from some memory loss due to her head injuries. Marco said doctors had told him the damage would hopefully not be permanent, but that she would probably have a lengthy road to recovery.

Bonnie was moved out of the intensive care unit at University of Cincinnati Hospital Jan. 10 and is scheduled to be relocated to Cardinal Hill Healthcare System in Lexington Jan. 12.

“It’s going to be a long process…we’re just going to hope and see,” said Marco. “The doctors told me her memory could come back tomorrow or in the coming weeks. They said it would probably take at least a couple months for her to start coming around, or it could be a year.”

Marco said while Bonnie has been able to move her arms and legs, the right side of her body still isn’t responding as well as the left. “(Her doctors) are concerned a little bit…but with brain injuries it takes a while to get everything back to normal," said Marco. "This morning, they were trying to get her to walk a few steps again—a little bit every day.”

Bonnie Castaneda has ridden 230 winners since beginning her riding career in 1995, according to Equibase.