Injured Pimlico exercise rider finds recovery in body cast is a rough ride

April 11, 1993|By Ross Peddicord | Ross Peddicord,Staff Writer

Kathy Driscoll refers to herself as "a strong-willed individual."

A week after the 40-year-old exercise rider was crushed beneath a horse at Pimlico Race Course, she is chatting on the phone from her bed at Sinai Hospital, where she is sheathed in a plastic body cast, and has even been up walking through the halls.

"I feel like I'm wearing a weird tank bathing suit," she said.

Driscoll broke her left arm, two vertebrae, was knocked unconscious and suffered bleeding between her brain and her skull after one of her favorite horses, For All, tripped over a loose leg bandage, somersaulted and landed on top of her last Sunday morning during training. The horse was not hurt.

Driscoll doesn't remember a thing about the spill.

"The last thing I remember is that Notebook

the horse had his head bowed and is really taking hold of the bit," she said. "I guess that's when I started to flip over his head. But that's all I remember.

"I feel like I've been in one of those old 'Twilight Zone' movies. I keep saying, 'This is not real. This didn't happen to me.'

"But I don't blame the horse, who I love. And I don't blame the groom, who didn't pin the polo wraps. She is one of my best friends. It was just human error."

Polo wraps are the bandages on the horse's legs that are held together by Velcro, but which are also normally pinned with safety pins as a precaution.

Driscoll added that "everyone who I imagine would have been at my funeral has filtered in and out of here to see me. My room looks like a greenhouse.

"Ron Cartwright [trainer and part owner of the horse] brought me a chocolate riding helmet for Easter. Am I supposed to eat it or wear it?

"I even got a call from my mother, who I haven't seen in 20 years."

Driscoll hasn't decided if she'll return to her exercise career once she heals.

"I've been riding since I was 8 and I've been on the track since 1971. This is my first really serious spill," she said. "I think they thought I was a goner when I came in here. I thought if anything like this happened, it would occur when I was breaking yearlings on the farm. Not on the track. For All is so old, so automatic. He can be tough to gallop. But I just sing to him and baby him along."

Driscoll said that one thing that she looks forward to when she is released from the hospital is visiting one of her favorite mounts, Little Casino, who also is recuperating from an injury.

"I feed him peppermints. Funny," Driscoll said, "how we seem to have matching careers. He bowed a tendon. I break my back."

Grand National fiasco

A week before the Maryland-based jumper Von Csadek was due to fly to England and compete in the English Grand National, he turned up lame and the trip was canceled.

"I guess the gods smiled upon us," said trainer Doug Worrall.

The running of the race turned into a fiasco. After two false starts, eight of the 40 horses completed the treacherous 4 1/2 -mile course, but the race was declared void.

"I don't know what I would have done if we'd gone over there and this had happened. If we'd won," Worrall said. "I'd have probably have felt like killing someone."

Worrall added that Von Csadek is back in training and might make the Maryland Hunt Cup, which he won last year.

"We might run him in the flat race at the [Butler] Grand National this weekend and use that as a prep for the Hunt Cup [on April 24]," Worrall said.

Miscellaneous

S. Bonsal White and Richard Small, owner and trainer, respectively, have made a $2,000 donation to the Backstretch Assistance Fund in memory of their horse, Fox Brush, who was electrocuted at Pimlico 10 days ago. The donation also honors exercise rider Richard Clayton Beck, who was injured in the episode. . . . Chip Reed, owner of Chip's Dancer, said 41 people were in the winner's circle picture after his horse won the Deputed Testamony Stakes last weekend. "But we didn't know five of them," he said. The horse works out at Laurel tomorrow in preparation for Saturday's Wood Memorial Stakes at Aqueduct. . . . Maryland horse owner, Phyllis Dixon (Mea Culpa Stables, Inc.) is one of the 10 finalists in the Thoroughbred Times fiction contest. She wrote a short story about a woman jockey. . . . All the Years, dam of Santa Anita Derby winner Personal Hope, is in Japan. She was bought by Japanese interests when Maryland farm owner Allaire DuPont sold the mare three years ago at an auction in Kentucky.

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