09/22/2010 3:25PM

Frazier ignores painful injuries to win another riding title

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AUBURN, Wash. – Ricky Frazier will finish the 2010 Emerald Downs meeting Sunday with another riding title, his fifth in seven seasons. The Northwest’s preeminent jockey has made it look easy, building a 111-88 lead over runner-up Juan Gutierrez, but looks can be deceiving – there was nothing easy about it.

Frazier suffered severe injuries in the second race on opening night April 9 when his mount went to her knees after the start, pitching him onto the track and into the path of another horse. He was taken to a nearby hospital, treated for a hip flexor, and released. He took a couple of days off, but the pain didn’t go away. Two weeks later, he went in for another set of X-rays.

“They found a hairline fracture in my hip, and also in a disk in my back,” Frazier said. “The doctor said I could keep trying, that it wasn’t anything that was severe enough to do more damage, but it’s been a difficult season health-wise; I’ve never gone through a span like this, where I’ve been in this kind of pain for five months. It feels so good now that I’m finally healing up.”

Frazier, 46, was Emerald’s leading rider in wins, stakes wins, and earnings in 2004, 2005, 2007, and 2009, and he will turn that hat trick again this summer. He has 10 stakes victories at the meeting, including a dazzling score aboard Zenovit in the Washington Oaks, and five on Noosa Beach, a 4-year-old who won the Grade 3 Longacres Mile and set an Emerald record for stakes wins in a season.

“I kind of fell into Noosa Beach,” Frazier said. “I came back wanting to ride Winning Machine, but the opportunity wasn’t there and I got Noosa Beach instead. It was one of those things where he kept getting better and better, and I wish he could get a chance to show the rest of America how good he really is. He’s one of the best milers out there.”

With son Dillon, 18, in tow, Frazier will head to California to defend his riding title at the Big Fresno Fair meeting starting Oct. 6, and then to Portland Meadows. After traveling far and wide in recent winters, he’s going to take it relatively easy this winter.

“I’m going to stay fit and healthy, and by the first of the year, I’ll reevaluate things,” he said. “My son’s here, he just stared galloping horses, and I want to stay close.”