08/15/2010 10:43AM

Retired jockey Stevens hurt in training accident

Barbara D. Livingston
Retired Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens prepares to work Thatcatismine at Saratoga on Sunday morning. Thatcatismine suffered a fatal injury during the workout, tossing Stevens to the track.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Retired Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens suffered a fractured left collarbone as a result of an accident during training hours Sunday morning at Saratoga.

Stevens, 47, was scheduled to participate in a parimutuel race next Friday at Arlington Park, pitting five retired jockeys against five current riders at Arlington’s meet. Stevens will have to cancel that engagement.

Stevens was working the 2-year-old Thatcatismine - in company with the unraced 2-year-old Dance City, with fellow Hall of Famer Angel Cordero up - when Thatcatismine suffered a fatal internal injury and fell just a few strides past the finish line. Stevens was unseated and fell as the horse collapsed. Thatcatismine died instantly from either a heart attack or ruptured aorta, trainer Todd Pletcher believes. A necropsy was to be performed, Pletcher added.

Stevens got up and eventually left the main track on his own power, but was later taken by a friend to Albany Medical Center to get examined. Doctors there confirmed the injury, said Stevens, who was released early in the afternoon.

“Clean break,” Stevens said Sunday afternoon. “Doesn’t need any surgery or anything; just hurts like a son of a gun.”

Stevens had broken his collarbone once before and said he felt it break Sunday when he hit the ground. He stayed on the track for about 10 minutes, while track officials tended to the fallen horse.

“I felt it when it happened, but my adrenaline was running pretty good, and I was standing on the track with Todd for a while,” Stevens said. “The longer I was out there, the dizzier I was getting. I knew when I was sitting in [Pletcher’s] office it wasn’t a bruise.”

At 6 a.m., Stevens worked another horse for Pletcher without incident. This accident came following the renovation break and at a time when the track is open to the public. The grandstand was full of patrons.

Stevens said he had been getting on horses for Pletcher at Churchill Downs during the spring and continued to get on horses when Del Mar’s meeting opened in late July.

“I hate going to the gym, and I like staying fit,” Stevens said.

Stevens did not have an exercise rider’s license in the state of New York, and the stewards fined Pletcher $200 for employing unlicensed help.

Stevens, who retired in 2005 and briefly went into training, won 4,888 races in his career, including the Kentucky Derby three times.

Stevens said the injury was “a quick reminder why I’m not doing this anymore.”

Stevens currently works for the racing network HRTV. He is scheduled to be part of the crew that will cover Saturday’s Arlington Million. Stevens said he hopes to fly out to Chicago on Thursday.