Jockey Joe Judice suffered a compound fracture of the left tibia in a freak accident during training hours at Oaklawn Park on Thursday.
According to a statement from the track, the accident occurred just after the maintenance break at a time when horse traffic on the track was at its heaviest. Judice was taking a horse trained by George Arceneaux to the starting gate in the six-furlong chute when a horse from trainer Terry Brennan's barn, ridden by jockey Justin Vitek, came up alongside, lashed out and kicked Judice in the left leg, just below the knee.
Judice, 41, was taken to nearby St. Joseph's Regional Health Center where orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Timothy Sloand, re-set the bone in a 45-minute procedure, and placed the rider in a long-leg cast.
If there are no post-surgery complications, Judice will be released this weekend and is scheduled to recover at his home in New Orleans, La.
"The tibia is the main weight-carrying bone," Sloand said, adding that Judice will be off his feet at least six weeks. "It's impossible to predict when he'll be able to get back on a horse again after he starts walking, but it may be as little as two months if the leg heals properly."
"My horse was standing quiet," Judice explained later Thursday afternoon from his hospital room, "when that other horse came over, spooked, and kicked me below the knee. The worst part was when they pulled the boot off. There's some throbbing and burning, but otherwise I feel OK. I just want to get out of here. No time is a good time to get hurt, but this was the worst. Oaklawn is my favorite track, and I was sitting on a lot of good horses."
Judice won 49 races, second to Calvin Borel's 70 at the 2001 Oaklawn meet. He was the primary rider for horses trained by Bob Holthus, who has taken the Oaklawn training title nine times.
The accident in which Judice was injured was one of two mishaps at Oaklawn Thursday. Shortly after Judice was injured, Lynn Whiting-trained B.J.'s Powerhouse shattered an ankle 40 yards from the wire during a five-furlong workout, and the recent maiden winner was euthanized. Her rider, David Nuesch, suffered only bumps and bruises.