Updated on 06/29/2011 4:49PM

Emerald Downs: Horseman faces long recovery after trampling

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AUBURN, Wash. – Tony Schiro is alive. That was the good news this week in the wake of a scary incident Saturday afternoon at Emerald Downs in which two horses heading from the paddock to the racetrack threw their jockeys, veered onto a horse path and broke into a full-speed sprint toward the barn area.

After running about 200 yards, one horse struck a tree, resulting in fatal injuries. The other trampled Schiro, 70, a longtime horseman and a popular figure on the Emerald Downs backside.

Schiro suffered head injuries, a badly broken leg and myriad other fractures. He was taken by ambulance to Auburn Regional Medical Center and later air lifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. A Harborview spokesperson said Schiro was moved out of intensive care Wednesday afternoon and his condition was upgraded to satisfactory.

“I talked to him this afternoon. He’s in really good spirits,” trainer Kay Cooper said Tuesday. “He had his femur plated and screwed. They have to go back in and work on his pelvis, and then they found a fracture in his right arm or shoulder. He’s got some fractured ribs. He had a collapsed lung. His vision is fine, but he goes in for facial reconstruction on Monday. He’s lucky to be alive, he really is, and he knows it.”

Schiro was standing near the Quarter Chute Cafe adjacent to the barn area when he was struck by Cahill’s Ride, a 3-year-old filly trained by Dan Markle. Dan Kenney, also a trainer, was on the horse path when he saw the loose horses barreling toward him. Kenney jumped for cover as the horses sped past, doing what he could to alert Schiro.

“The horses were coming real fast. They were in a dead run,” Kenney said. “They both had blinkers on. It was just a matter of, ‘How bad is it going to be?’

“Tony was reading his program when I yelled. He looked up, he dove like a baseball player trying to get to second base, but he dove in the same direction as the horses. He hit the horse point blank just above the knees. It spun him like a top. There was lot of blood, a lot of lacerations. He was drowning in blood, and I knew his leg was hurt. He’s gotta be a tough son of a gun, I’ll tell you that.”

Wiley Witch sustained multiple injuries after colliding with a tree and was euthanized. Cahill’s Ride sustained only minor injuries after striking Schiro and was returned to Markle’s barn. Leonel Camacho-Flores, the jockey thrown from Wiley Witch, was taken to Auburn Regional Medical Center, where he was treated for cuts and scrapes. Tony Gutierrez, the jockey on Cahill’s Ride, was not injured. Schiro has been a fixture at West Coast tracks for decades. “Tony has owned Thoroughbreds, he’s done it all,” Cooper said. “He exercised horses for a lot of big trainers down in California. He’s trained, he broke horses at our farm and did an excellent job. Now he does animal communication and body work – he applies acupressure. I’ve been in contact with his brother in L.A., and what he said was, ‘Tony’s always been the brother who lives off the land.’ What he owns is in the back of his car. Overall, he’s just a good guy and a friend to everybody.”“He’s not out of the woods,” Cooper said. “It’s a major setback because he’s not going to be able to work for quite a while.”