12/21/2002 12:00AM

Illness can't keep Schvaneveldt down


ALBANY, Calif. - Jockey Chad Schvaneveldt, tied for sixth in the Golden Gate Fields jockey standings, returned to full-time riding this week after missing two weeks with a severe attack of pancreatitis that left him hospitalized for four days.

Schvaneveldt, 38, had his first winner since returning, and 12th of the meeting, on Thursday.

Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas. Schvaneveldt has had previous attacks, and they are sometimes a byproduct of his occupation. Falls and severe jolts to the body can cause the painful inflammation.

Schvaneveldt said his first attack came after a horse fell on him in 1990. "I lacerated my liver and broke some blood vessels in my stomach," he said.

Schvaneveldt's latest attack began about three weeks before he was hospitalized. It happened soon after a horse he was working fell. Later, another horse he was on fell. Schvaneveldt landed on his feet, but his body received a jolt.

Schvaneveldt went to the hospital after losing weight and experiencing severe pain. "I've had pain through injuries and stuff, but nothing compares to that," he said. "It's like a knife twisting in your stomach.

"It seems like it happens every two to 2 1/2 years. I've had it six times since it first happened."

Because of the condition, Schvaneveldt has to watch his diet closely, and he was told not to drink alcoholic beverages. But, he said, he continued to drink them for 10 years after the first attack. He stopped in February 2001 after one of his pancreatitis attacks.

Since then, his career has shown a marked improvement.

He finished fifth in the Bay Meadows standings in the 2001 fall meet and fourth at the 2002 fall meet there. He was fourth

at the Golden Gate Fields 2001-2002 meeting.

"My success has come probably because I'm not drinking any more," Schvaneveldt said. "I've been consistent. I show up in the morning. Trainers can depend on me."

Santano tries dirt

Santano, perhaps the quickest horse on the grounds, will see how well he can handle the dirt in a $32,000 claimer at five furlongs Sunday.

Santano has taken the lead but finished second in his past two starts, both at 4 1/2 furlongs on the turf course here.

Always Game, who passed Santano late in their last start, Dec. 1, is the one to beat.

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