Hamilton Takes Rest of the Year Off, Rodriguez Out with Leg Injury

Edited from Maryland Jockey Club Press Release--

Jockey Steve Hamilton, the third leading rider at the major Maryland tracks this year, has decided to take off the remainder of 2005. The 32-year-old captured the Pimlico spring meeting for the second straight year and has 107 victories at Pimlico and Laurel Park this year.

A top five rider in Maryland five times during the 1990's, Hamilton was out of racing in 2001, 2002, and 2003 while working on the oil fields in his native Oklahoma. He returned in January 2004 and less than 18 months later had a mount in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I), riding local hopeful Malibu Moonshine.

"That was wild," said Hamilton in June. "We went into the gate and the crowd started screaming and it raised the hair on my arms. When you are younger you take some things for granted and not many people get a second chance, so you have to make the best of it. I am just going to keep working hard and hope things keep panning out."

Nationally Hamilton ranks 64th in wins (137) and 63rd in earnings ($3.2 million). He has 1,199 career winners.

In other Maryland news, jockey Erick Rodriguez suffered another setback when it was discovered he has a hairline fracture in his left leg and is expected to be out four to six weeks. Rodriguez, who was injured in an Oct. 5 spill, returned to action Oct. 13 but took off after one mount.

"We thought it was just a calf bruise so we treated it that way and took off a week," said Rodriguez' agent Paul Plymire. "He felt good coming back but after riding that one horse told me he couldn't go. We took him back to the doctor and they found a hairline fracture in-between the ankle and knee."

The 25-year-old missed the entire Pimlico spring meeting after fracturing four vertebrae in his back from a spill at Laurel Park on April 14. He rode 12 winners to capture the brief Pimlico summer stand and ranks seventh at the major Maryland tracks this year with 74 first place finishes.