07/24/2015 8:01AM

Rossi has spinal surgery; doctors ‘cautiously optimistic’


Jockey Oriana Rossi underwent seven hours of what was termed successful spinal surgery Thursday at Indiana University Healthcare Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis in the aftermath of a Wednesday spill at Indiana Grand, which also led to less serious injuries to two other jockeys.

Trainer Tim Glyshaw, among Rossi’s many friends staying closely apprised of the situation, said Friday that doctors were “cautiously optimistic” that Rossi would be able to walk again after suffering fractures in her upper and lower back. She has been unable to move her lower extremities but was able to move her arms, said Glyshaw.

“Oriana’s doctor said the spinal cord was not severed,” said Glyshaw, whose stable is split between Indiana Grand in suburban Indianapolis and Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. “Obviously he wants to see how she is in the coming days, and she has lots and lots of rehab ahead of her. He said it is too early for a full prognosis, but generally when the spinal cord remains intact there is hope.”

IU Methodist is widely recognized as a regional leader in the care of spinal injuries.

Rossi, 32, was born and raised in England and began riding races in the United States in 2009. She has ridden mostly at Indiana and Kentucky tracks and at Tampa Bay Downs in the winter. She has 292 career wins for mount earnings of nearly $5.7 million. Glyshaw was among the first trainers for whom she worked after migrating to the U.S.

The spill occurred in the fifth race Wednesday, a six-furlong starter-allowance, when Divine Thunder clipped heels approaching the half-mile pole on the main track, throwing jockey Alejandro Contreras. As he fell, Divine Thunder’s leg struck jockey Francisco Torres aboard My Prize Now, causing Torres to take up sharply. Rossi, on 73-1 shot Top Priority, then came off when unable to avoid Divine Thunder, with Top Priority falling atop her.

Rossi was rushed to nearby Major Hospital, where she was stabilized before being transferred to IU Methodist.

Glyshaw has been part of a large contingent of racetrack friends and colleagues spending time at the hospital. He said Rossi’s mother was en route Friday from her home in France.

According to Glyshaw, Torres suffered a fractured foot and Contreras suffered two fractures in his lower back that should heal without lasting damage. Both jockeys will be sidelined indefinitely. All three horses survived without catastrophic injury.

One of Glyshaw’s clients, Hoosier Daddy Stable, said it will contribute 5 percent of stable earnings through the end of this year toward Rossi’s medical expenses “and we’d like to encourage other owners to do the same if possible,” said Del Cato, managing partner for the stable. “We are really pulling hard for Oriana.”

Last October, apprentice Juan Saez suffered fatal injuries in a spill at Indiana Grand.