03/08/2017 8:49AM

Melancon making progress in recovery from stroke

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Larry Melancon is showing encouraging signs while recovering in a North Carolina hospital, where the retired jockey has been in critical care since undergoing six hours of surgery last weekend following a major stroke.

Trainer Al Stall Jr., for whom Melancon worked as an assistant and exercise rider in recent years, said he talked by phone Tuesday with Melancon.

“He talked to me in Cajun French, which he usually does,” said Stall. “He was upbeat and positive. He also talked to Robby Albarado and Lynn Whiting and I’d imagine some other friends in the business. He’s working his way back to stability. He’s breathing and swallowing on his own. He’s not out of the woods by any means, and his doctors aren’t sure when he can leave. But so far he’s doing well, all things considered.”

Meanwhile, a GoFundMe account to defray the costs of returning Melancon for treatment at the Frazier Rehab Institute in Louisville, Ky., where Melancon lives, has raised more than $20,000 in its first few days.

Melancon, 61, had been on vacation in the Asheville, N.C., area with his wife, Denise, when he was stricken Friday morning. He was airlifted to nearby Mission Neurology Hospital, a national leader in neurological care.

Melancon retired in July 2010 from a riding career that spanned nearly four decades. He won more than 2,800 races and had more than $60 million in mount earnings