12/21/2004 1:00AM

Ambulance issue at Delta resolved


Delta Downs resumed racing Tuesday after track officials and jockeys came to an agreement over ambulance services, an issue that led to the cancellation of racing at the track Saturday night. Instead of being taken automatically to the nearest hospital, jockeys can now go to their hospital of choice for care if they are involved in an accident. The agreement was reached during a series of meetings that began Saturday and continued through Monday.

The issue rose to the forefront last Friday night, when jockey Christina Gray was injured in a two-horse spill and was admitted and discharged the same night from the nearest hospital to Delta, West Calcasieu Cameron Hospital, which is located 17 miles from Delta in Sulphur, La. Gray then had to be brought to a larger facility, Memorial in Lake Charles, La., and is scheduled to undergo back surgery for a fractured vertebrae Monday.

Carl Woodley, the second-leading rider at Delta, was involved in the meetings with Delta.

Woodley said the riders secured Memorial as their "contact" hospital in the event of an accident. The ambulance crew will consult with the doctor on call, and, based on the type of injury the rider sustains, the ambulance will be routed to the best hospital for the case, said Woodley.

In the past, riders were usually taken to West Calcasieu Cameron. But it is a small facility, and there are broader services at Memorial and St. Patrick, which is also in Lake Charles. Those hospitals are about 28 miles from Delta.

Jockeys elected not to ride Saturday night because the ambulance issue was not resolved. First post went as scheduled Tuesday, the first day the track was to race following Saturday.

Gray, 34, is expected to be off for at least three months, said her mother, Judy Schrock.

Gray has no personal insurance, just a track policy that Schrock believed covers costs up to $100,000. Gray is not a member of the Jockeys' Guild. She was transferred out of intensive care and into a regular room Monday.

"She rested more peacefully last night," Schrock said Tuesday. "She seems to be getting better every day."