Apprentice jockey Michael Straight, seriously injured in an Aug. 26 spill at Chicago’s Arlington Park, will undergo surgery for four fractured vertebrae at Luther General Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill. at approximately 3:30 p.m. CDT.
Although Straight suffered bleeding to the brain as a result of the accident, doctors were optimistic that he had not sustained serious head trauma. The Daily Racing Form reported Straight may be paralyzed as a result of the accident.
Straight, 23, was thrown from his mount in the eighth race, a $10,000 event run at 1 1/16-miles for maiden claimers, when the Clayton Pierce-trained gelding Im No Gentleman collapsed and died near the quarter pole. No other horses or riders were involved in the spill, which happened as Im No Gentleman raced seventh among the trailers in the nine-horse field.
Straight is the second jockey to sustain severe injuries in races run over Arlington’s Polytrack at the current spring/summer meet. On May 23, veteran Rene Douglas was thrown when his mount clipped heels in the Arlington Matron Stakes. He lost all feeling in his lower extremities and is still recovering in the Chicagoland area.
Jockeys at Arlington were scheduled to meet with track management Aug. 27 regarding the condition of the surface.
Straight and his twin brother Matthew are graduates of the North American Riding Academy run by Hall of Fame rider Chris McCarron. The injured Straight scored his first win March 6 at Tampa Bay Downs and has 39 winners from 372 starts, 23 earned this season at Arlington. His brother has been riding at Ellis Park in Kentucky, but drove to Illinois late last night; the twins’ parents flew in as well and McCarron will fly there Aug. 27.
“As of noon today, Mike is stable and is scheduled to undergo surgery later this afternoon,” Matthew Straight said in a statement. “The surgery is expected to last several hours. We will issue a further update (Aug. 27).”