12/12/2012 3:35PM

With business down, Sellers changes plans

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Barbara D. Livingston
Shane Sellers fractured a shoulder in a June spill at Churchill Downs and has yet to regain his business.

In other years, under other circumstances, Shane Sellers would be at Fair Grounds for the winter.

But the 47-year-old jockey has decided instead to remain in Kentucky, working on a 57-acre farm he purchased earlier this year with trainer Pat Huffman. Sellers, whose 4,387 career victories rank him 45th all-time in North American racing history, said the shoulder fracture he suffered in a June spill at Churchill Downs hurt his business, and he felt another winter in New Orleans would be fruitless.

“When I came back from my injury, I had no business,” said Sellers, referring to a combined 0-for-17 mark at the Keeneland and Churchill fall meets. “During my down time, Pat and I got started on this farm. Instead of sitting in the jocks’ room all winter in New Orleans, I thought I’d just keep doing this.”

The farm is located just behind the famed castle on U.S. 60 just west of Lexington in Versailles, Ky. The property formerly was used as a saddlebred operation and was known as Parker View Farm. Sellers said he is busy breaking yearlings and taking care of other aspects of the business, including overseeing lay-ups and boarded mares.

Sellers said he has not retired from riding, and in fact he will be aboard Night Party for Huffman on Saturday in the $50,000 Prairie Bayou Stakes at Turfway Park in northern Kentucky.

“I’m not quitting,” he said. “I told a friend I’ll just ‘Craig Perret-it’ the rest of my career,” a reference to the pick-and-choose manner that Perret employed in the final years of a career than ended in 2005. “Whatever comes up, that’s how I’m going to play it.”

Sellers has won numerous riding titles and major races in a career that dates to 1983. He stopped riding in 2004 before coming out of retirement in 2009. Since then, he has recorded 318 wins for mount earnings of more than $5.9 million. His last three winters at Fair Grounds were quite busy and productive, with 49 wins at the 2009-10 meet (fifth in the standings); 23 in 2010-11; and 53 in 2011-12 (seventh).

He said he is still dismayed and puzzled at how he failed to attract the business he had built before a 3-year-old named Voodoo Daddy, apparently on his way to victory as an odds-on favorite, veered inward and struck the temporary inner rail of the Churchill turf course during the evening program of June 29. The colt suffered injuries that led to him being euthanized, while Sellers – who was on pace to have his best year in earnings since returning from his retirement – has not recovered business-wise.

“To this day, I really don’t understand it,” he said. “Things were going great for me until the spill. I honestly don’t want to be negative because the game’s been so good to me, and I realize I can’t ride forever anyway and I need to get busy with other stuff. But I love the game and I’m still in it. We’ll see what happens down the road a little.”