02/02/2008 12:00AM

Slomkowski puts himself back together


OLDSMAR Fla. - Last spring, trainer Rick Slomkowski's future looked bright. A hands-on horseman, Slomkowski was getting on many of his own runners during training hours, training for one of the biggest owners in the country in Frank Calabrese, and winning at a better than 20 percent clip with his runners at Tampa Bay Downs.

Then on March 29, his whole world changed in a blink of an eye. Slomkowski was struck by a car on Route 19, one of the busiest and most dangerous roads in the state, and was critically injured. His injuries included a badly fractured and dislocated right ankle, fractured right femur, fractured right hip, fractured clavicle, fractured ribs, and a lacerated liver.

For two weeks, Slomkowski was in intensive care, and he was hospitalized for more than a month. He had to have reconstructive surgery to rebuild his ankle and more surgery to rebuild his hip. At one point, doctors considered amputating his right leg.

In short, Slomkowski's life turned upside down, and his priorities went from winning races to being able to get across a room without help.

"It was a tough period, there's no denying that," Slomkowski said recently. "After I was released from the hospital I had no insurance, so I had to work on therapy and rehab mostly on my own. I didn't know what my future in the business was going to be for a while, but fortunately I met with Mr. Calabrese and he said he would stick with us and lend support while we were getting back.

"My wife, Mandy, was a lifesaver, both at the track and at home," Slomkowski added. "She's my right hand, and she took on a lot of responsibilities while I was on the mend.

"The worst thing from a training standpoint was not being able to get on my own stock in the morning anymore. I've had to learn to be an eyes-on trainer instead of a hands-on trainer, but I'm working at it. It's just taking time."

Slomkowski, who has 4 winners and 4 seconds from 18 starters at the current meet for a 22 percent winning average, has 12 head here, and most are high-priced claiming types.

"We've got quite a few grass horses, and the rainy period has kept some from running, but we'll be entering more now that they're back on the grass," he said. "I'm just happy to be back at the track and with my horses again."

Pair of fillies show promise

Saturday's fourth race featured a pair of young fillies who may have a future.

Moonshine Alice, who lost a tough decision in her debut to the highly regarded Dee's Rose, opened up a three-length lead through six furlongs in 1:10.62. She then had enough left to turn back Tight Precision, a first-time starter and half-sister to stakes-winning turf runner Herecomesatiger, to prevail by a half-length while racing the 6 1/2 furlongs in a creditable 1:17.51 over a track that was far from lightning-fast.

Moonshine Alice, a daughter of Straight Man, is trained by Gerald Bennett.