02/19/2011 3:32PM

Coa has movement in hands following surgery to stabilize neck injury


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Jockey Eibar Coa underwent surgery to stabilize his fractured C-4 vertebra at Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood, Fla., his agent Tito Fuentes reported shortly before 2 p.m. on Saturday.

Coa, 40, fractured the C-4 vertebra in his neck in a Friday spill at Gulfstream that occurred after the horses had crossed the finish line.

Fuentes said Coa’s wife Rebeca told him that the surgeons said her husband had some movement in his hands, an excellent sign, but that it was too early to predict whether he would regain movement in his legs as well.

“The surgeons told Eibar’s wife that the surgery went very well but that they want to do another surgery in a couple of days,” said Fuentes. “He broke his C-4 vertebrae both front and back. Today they repaired up front but felt they needed to operate again to stabilize the back.”

The accident occurred when Precious Lady, with leading rider Paco 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.

Lopez, who suffered a chip in his elbow in the same mishap that involved Coa, visited the jockeys’ room here during the races on Saturday. Lopez began serving a three-day suspension on Saturday and cannot ride until Wednesday at the earliest.

According to his agent, Cory Moran, Lopez will see a specialist on Monday to reassess his injury and will not return until given clearance by a doctor.

“He might be able to come back on Wednesday but we’ll see how he’s doing and make a determination at that time,” said Moran. “We’re not going to rush him back if he’s not 100 percent.”