01/08/2011 5:14PM

Jockeys upset by slow response to paddock accident


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - The New York Racing Association is looking into a breakdown in communication that led to an injured jockey being left unattended to in the paddock for several minutes and nearly prompted the cancellation of the final three races on Saturday’s card at Aqueduct.

Emergency medical technicians and other medical personnel based in two ambulances at the track did not respond in a timely fashion to calls to tend to jockey Junior Alvarado, who was kicked in the groin and lower abdomen by his mount, Starlantic, prior to the running of the sixth race. Alvarado lay writhing in pain in the paddock before jockey David Cohen took it upon himself to carry Alvarado - wrapped in a horse blanket - into the jockeys’ room.

“He was on the ground shaking cold, the ground is frozen cold,” Cohen said. “No one came to his aid. I got one of the assistant trainers to put their horse blanket over him. No one responded to any calls over the radio. I had to pick him up and bring him into the room so he would be warm. He actually ended up going into shock when he went into the room.”

Alvarado was taken by ambulance to Jamaica Hospital Medical Center where X-rays were negative. Alvarado was to take off his mounts on Sunday for precautionary reasons, according to his agent, Mike Monroe, but he is expected to ride on Wednesday.

Alvarado, riding full-time in New York for the first time, is third in the inner track standings with 14 wins from 111 mounts.

After the sixth race - in which Starlantic finished second with Channing Hill up - the jockeys held a meeting during which they discussed not riding the final three races on the card out of safety concerns. After meeting with NYRA management - including president Charles Hayward and racing secretary P.J. Campo - the jockeys did finish the program.

Cohen said that during the post parade for the sixth race he approached one of the EMTs and asked why they didn’t come to the paddock to help.

“They made the statement it was not their job to help so that’s also a big concern,” Cohen said.

Cohen said NYRA did reposition an ambulance to be at the wire in order to be closer in the event there was an incident in the paddock.

Cohen said that part of the riders’ decision to ride was to not penalize the owners and trainers who had horses in the remaining races.

“It’s not fair to penalize them,” Cohen said. “And as long as [NYRA] had everything in order for the remainder of the racing day today we could ride and we will tend to matters tomorrow morning.”

There are two ambulances at the track on race day, one at the top of the stretch and one on the clubhouse turn. After Alvarado went down, the stewards attempted to reach personnel in both ambulances but no one in the ambulance at the top of the stretch responded and by the time those in the one at the clubhouse turn did, Alvarado had already been taken inside.

EMTs are also based in a trailer at the front of the track, but initial reports were that they were tending to a situation on the third floor at the time of Alvarado’s incident, according to Hayward.
Hayward said he understood why the riders threatened not to finish the card.

“They were concerned about their safety which they should be,” Hayward said. “I have no fault with the jockeys.”

After the races, Hayward said that NYRA was attempting to “piece together” exactly what happened and declined further comment.