Jockey Russell to Miss Rest of Laurel Meet

Surgery for punctured lungs and eight broken ribs sidelines 23-year-old rider.

(from Laurel Park track report)

Jockey Sheldon Russell will miss the final seven weeks of the Laurel Park fall meeting following surgery to repair punctured lungs and eight broken ribs suffered in a fall Oct. 30.

The 23-year-old Russell, second-leading rider at the Maryland track, was recovering at his home Nov. 3.

Russell had surgery the night of Oct. 30 at the Shock Trauma Center at the University of Maryland Medical Center in downtown Baltimore.

“The bottom ones punctured the lung and a hole seeped into the lung causing me to have trouble breathing,” said Russell. “But we are doing well. They took good care of me at Shock Trauma.”

In the day's second race, Russell was aboard Like A Cat, who had to swerve to miss a fallen horse and sent his rider tumbling to the ground. Mean Louie Q, with Grant Whitacre aboard, had angled to the rail and broke down as the horses rounded the far turn.

“Grant’s horse was not even near me but when he broke down he fell right in front of us,” added Russell, who won a career-best 106 races this year.

Russell’s promising career has been marred by injury since he was an apprentice rider. In October 2007, he fractured vertebrae during a spill and missed four months. A month into his comeback, in March 2008, he fractured vertebrae and suffered a broken wrist in a spill, missing another four months.

“My initial thought when I knew I couldn’t get up was it was my back but by the time I got into the ambulance the sharp pains were in the rib area,” said Russell, who captured the 2008 fall riding title and trailed Forest Boyce by three wins when the injury occurred.

“We’ll concentrate on getting back January 1st,” said Marty Leonard, Russell’s agent. “And work relentlessly to return to the top of the standings.”

The Laurel meet ends Dec.18.