Bay Meadows Jockey Rollins in Critical Condition

By Claire Novak
Jockey Chance Rollins, a 36-year-old regular on the Northern California circuit, remained in critical but stable condition Monday with injuries he suffered after he was thrown in the third race at Bay Meadows on Sunday.

Rollins sustained severe head injuries when his mount, Dr Ramos – the 4-5 favorite in a field of five – veered in sharply and hit the rail shortly after the start of Sunday's third race. The jockey landed on his head and was not breathing when track physician Dr. David Seftel reached his side. Seftel performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation on Rollins, who was then transported to nearby Stanford Hospital in Stanford, CA. He remained in ICU Monday morning, and doctors were "cautiously optimistic" that his condition would not require surgery.

"He sustained a major head injury with bleeding into the base of the brain," Seftel said. "The area that was damaged controls motor function on the left side of his body, but the bleeding appears contained and may reabsorb, so we hope Chance won't require surgery."

A detailed MRI taken Sunday showed shearing to Rollins' nerve fibers, caused by the whiplash effect of the accident. The damage may cause some degree of cognitive impairment, but doctors won't know the full extent of the jockey's injuries until he regains consciousness. They plan to keep Rollins sedated and on life support for at least 24 to 48 hours.

"Over the years we've unfortunately seen a number of brain injuries with our jockeys, and each case has to be judged on its own," Seftel said. "We won't know the degree of damage Chance sustained for several days, but he's an incredibly tough individual, and we'll hope for a good recovery."

Rollins, who earned his 2,000th career win in February of 2006, is known as a strong advocate for jockey health and safety issues.

"He has an extraordinary sense of humor and is loved for his diplomacy and straightfowardness," said Seftel. "He's a very special person, and he'll definitely be in our thoughts and prayers over the next few days."