09/30/2016 1:30PM

Jockey Collins paralyzed following Albuquerque spill

Coady Photography
Jockey Dennis Collins, pictured at Arapahoe Park this past summer, was injured in a spill at Albuquerque.

Jockey Dennis Collins could be facing permanent paralysis from the waist down following a spill last Sunday at the Downs at Albuquerque. The 53-year-old remained at a New Mexico hospital Friday, recovering from surgery to stabilize his spine due to an extensive T-4 compression fracture, according to his fiancée, trainer Heather Brock.

The surgery was performed Monday at the University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque.

“They did a fusion, three up and three down,” Brock said Friday. “Right now, he’s stable. As of this time, doctors feel there will be permanent paralysis from the waist down. At this time. We’re being prepared for that likelihood.”

Brock said in the rider’s favor is that his spinal cord was not severed. Collins was injured when his mount broke down in the third race on the final card of the meet at Albuquerque. Brock said she was told Collins was thrown over the horse’s head and landed flat on his back. He was just temporarily riding at Albuquerque after closing out the meet at his usual summer base at Arapahoe Park in Colorado.

“He was finished up in Denver and he went to Albuquerque to keep going for a couple of more weeks,” she said. “He was supposed to come home that night.”

Home is Arizona, where Collins was set to compete at the upcoming Turf Paradise meet.

Brock said Collins was doing well mentally Friday.

“Under the circumstances, he’s in good spirits and accepting,” she said.

Brock said Collins will undergo several months of physical rehabilitation, and on Friday she was discussing facility options with a social worker, including sites in Denver and Phoenix.

“We’re going to get through this, stay positive, and get him stable enough to take him home,” Brock said.

Friends have set up a GoFundMe page to help with Collins’s expenses.

The rider, who is a native of New Jersey, won the first race of his career at Laurel in June 1987. He was a top rider on the Nebraska circuit, and for the past decade has been a fixture at Turf Paradise, where in 2013 he won the 2,000th Thoroughbred race of his career. Overall, Collins has won 2,360 races, and his mounts have earned more than $14 million.