06/25/2008 12:00AM

Burningham's worst spill not at the track


BOSSIER CITY, La. - Jockey Jeff Burningham has dealt with his share of injuries throughout his riding career, but the one resulting from a non-riding incident has proved to be the toughest.

"I was up on a ladder topping a tree at my house here in the Shreveport area this past February when I fell," said the 35-year-old native of Montreal. "I crushed the L-1 vertebra and they had to put a couple of pins in."

The injury came just a day before Burningham was due to make a return from his latest racetrack injury.

"I had a horse flip with me in the gates at Delta Downs last November," Burningham said. "I broke a hip in two places and had just healed up before this thing happened with my back."

Burningham is optimistic that he will return to riding, although admits it is going to take some time.

"The doctors say next year," he said. "The recovery has been going all right. I'm still a little stiff at times, but with the physical therapy and all, I feel I'm getting better."

In the meantime, Burningham is trying his hand at being a jockey agent. He is representing Rico Flores and apprentice Brandon Smith.

"It is something really I never thought about while I was riding," he said. "It is something I'm growing into."

Week after close call, Davis gets a win

Jockey Keith Davis picked up his first win of the meeting last Friday, a week after narrowly escaping a serious back injury of his own when his mount clipped heels and threw him to the ground.

"It missed my spine by that much," Davis said of the hoof mark on his back, while holding two fingers entirely too close together for comfort. "I told the track chaplain who was with me that I had broken my back. Thank goodness it was a near miss. They checked me over and I was awfully sore, but they let me go home later that afternoon."

Davis, 39, rejoined the riding ranks in 2007 after taking a few years off.

"I remember my last ride before I quit," he said. "It was at Beulah, and a horse I had just won on broke down after the wire and they had to lead him back. Another rider said that if I kept getting on those broken-down horses I was going to get hurt.

"I missed riding, so here I am. I went from 145 pounds in February of 2007 to 116 in April. I won wire to wire with my first mount back at Canterbury."