03/17/2004 1:00AM

Cooksey returns from injury


Jockey Patti Cooksey has been named to ride in the 10th race at Turfway Park on Friday evening, her first mount since breaking her leg in a spill at Keeneland on April 12.

Cooksey, 46, has ridden 2,136 winners, second only to Julie Krone among female jockeys in North American racing history. In recent years, her career has been marked by physical challenges, including a battle with breast cancer.

Despite those obstacles, Cooksey has repeatedly returned to the saddle. Even after her latest injury, which required a metal rod to be surgically implanted, she dismissed the idea of retirement. Cooksey said she wanted to end her 25-year riding career on her own terms, rather than injured on the racetrack, and she went through extensive physical rehabilitation to resume riding.

"I figured that if Julie Krone could come back, after all she has been through, then I could, too," Cooksey said.

Cooksey's lone mount on Friday is a longshot, Religious, who is being stepped up into a two-other-than allowance after being claimed for $7,500 by owner-trainer Garry Simms. Religious finished eighth in that Jan. 17 claiming race.

Cooksey said she has no timetable for her eventual retirement, and simply wants to enjoy being back riding.