02/18/2011 7:54PM

Coa fractures vertebra in neck after spill at Gulfstream

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Justin N. Lane
Eibar Coa was scheduled to undergo surgery for a fractured vertebra Friday evening.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Jockey Eibar Coa fractured the cervical-4 vertebra in his neck in a spill that occurred just past the finish line in Friday’s sixth race at Gulfstream Park, according to his former agent, Matt Muzikar. Coa was scheduled to undergo surgery Friday evening at Memorial East Hospital in Hollywood.

Muzikar said from the hospital that Coa, 38, was conscious and speaking to him just before being prepped for surgery. He said Coa told him “he hasn’t had any movement in his arms or legs yet.”

Paco Lopez, Gulfstream Park’s leading rider, also went down in the mishap and suffered a chip in his elbow along with assorted bumps and bruises, according to Gulfstream’s vice president of racing, Tim Ritvo. Lopez was expected to be released from the hospital Friday.

The incident occurred when Precious Lady, with Lopez aboard, appeared to clip heels and fell while pulling up shortly after finishing second behind Omi’s Vindication in the five-furlong maiden race on the grass. Coa’s mount, Lady Chesterfield, was unable to avoid Precious Lady and fell, tossing Coa hard to the ground.

Both horses got up and returned to their respective barns under their own power.

Coa is the regular rider of Big Drama, who won the Eclipse Award for champion male sprinter in 2010. He had been scheduled to ride Mucho Macho Man in Saturday’s Grade 2 Risen Star at the Fair Grounds. Trainer Kathy Ritvo reported from New Orleans late Friday that Rajiv Maragh, who will be at the Fair Grounds on Saturday to ride Mission Impazible for trainer Todd Pletcher in the Grade 3 Mineshaft, would replace Coa aboard Mucho Macho Man in the Risen Star.

“Rajiv will be here on Saturday, and he knows Mucho Macho Man, having worked him for my husband, Tim, this summer at Saratoga,” Ritvo said.