07/07/2009 11:00PM

Sellers gets back to where it all began


Shane Sellers's career has come full circle. The controversial and often outspoken Louisiana native won his first sanctioned race at age 16 at the old Evangeline Downs back in 1983, and last week marked a successful return after a 4 1/2-year hiatus at the new Evangeline with a win in his first mount back.

While that makes for a tidy story, Sellers cites an incident 2 1/2 ago as more profound and basic to his roots and the mystique of racing in Cajun country.

"I went with a friend out to one of the bush tracks in the area," Sellers said. "It was the one where Kent Desormeaux got his start and similar to the one that I began riding at when I was just 11 years old. I got on a horse that day and it was like a lightbulb going off. The competitive fire was back immediately.

"I was still searching, still trying to find myself after I was no longer riding," Sellers continued. "After moving back to Louisiana, I had worked breaking some 2-year-olds along with a few other things connected to racing and was just not satisfied."

Sellers made the 123-pound weight assignment of his winning mount last Thursday for trainer Mark Guidry, a good friend and former rider, but conceded he is not ready to call himself racing-fit.

"My weight had gotten up to 150 pounds before I started my comeback," he said. "I still have some weight to pull, but I'm getting there. I'm still working on my timing as well and am making progress. I'm taking it one day at a time."

The seriously injured knee that was cited as the primary reason Sellers hung up his tack more than four years ago is as good as new, the jockey said.

"The knee is fine," he said. "Physically, everything else is fine. I have to work on the mental side of things, my timing and all. I'm just going to keep everything positive."

A longtime advocate for jockeys' rights in the past, Sellers hints that that aspect of his career will probably not be resurrected.

"Some of the things that I've said and did in the past probably alienated me from some people," he said. "If I had it to do over again, I probably would have been more political about some things, but there were causes that I truly believed in."

Anthony Martin is acting as Sellers's agent, which is rather heady stuff for a 20-year-old. Martin is no ordinary young man embarking on a new career, however. He is the son of longtime Louisiana agent Tony Martin, and earlier this summer acted as Robby Albarado's interim agent in Kentucky while regular agent Lenny Pike took some time off.

"I feel blessed to be involved with those two guys," Martin said. "Robby talked to Shane a while back and things took off from there."