Rollins Takes 'Miraculous' Stride in Recovery

By Claire Novak
Jockey Chance Rollins, injured at Bay Meadows on June 11, has been moved from the intensive care unit at Stanford Hospital and is taking "truly remarkable and miraculous" steps toward recovery, track physician Dr. David Seftel said Wednesday.

The 36-year-old Rollins sustained severe head injuries when his mount veered in sharply and hit the rail shortly after the start of a race at the San Mateo track. The jockey landed on his head and was in cardiac arrest when medical attendants reached his side. He was resuscitated by Seftel, then transported to Stanford, where doctors discovered bleeding and additional nerve damage to the base of the brain.

Rollins remained in a medically-induced coma in ICU for two days as doctors worked to stabilize his condition. He was taken off sedatives Tuesday evening and transferred to a regular ward Wednesday afternoon.

"Doctors were able to remove the breathing tube this morning," Seftel said. "Chance is breathing on his own, he's conscious and alert, and he's able to speak slowly in monosyllables – one word at a time. This afternoon he was able to actually stand up and ambulate slowly to the window with assistance, so he's making a truly remarkable and miraculous recovery from his comatose state, and we'll just hope and pray that positive change continues."

While it is impossible to gauge a recovery time in the jockey's case, a return to riding may not be out of the question for Rollins.

"We just have to hope and pray that positive change continues," said Seftel, who is currently conducting the first nationwide health study on jockeys. "Thankfully, we were able to provide an immediate response at the scene of the accident, which is vital with any type of serious injury. Unfortunately, that's not the case at every race track, but it should be. Medical care for these riders should not be compromised. They deserve the best because they're giving us their best in every race, every day."

Winner of over 2,000 races, Chance Rollins ranked fourth in the Bay Meadows standings going into Sunday's card. His mounts earned more than $21 million throughout his 17-year career.