Napravnik to miss 12 weeks

Scan reveals star jockey broke three vertebrae in spill at Laurel Park

February 01, 2007|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,Sun Reporter

Anna Napravnik, Maryland's top jockey last year and runner-up in the Eclipse Award voting for outstanding apprentice, found out yesterday she will miss up to 12 weeks of competition with broken vertebrae she suffered during a spill Friday at Laurel Park.

Original X-rays showed nothing wrong, and Napravnik had hoped to return to riding yesterday. But the results of a follow-up CT scan Monday at Harbor Hospital revealed three compression fractures in the thoracic region -- the middle -- of her back.

"There's not any real treatment for it," Napravnik said in a news release. "In my case, lying down and letting it heal. I'm not in any kind of brace or anything. I have a brace that I will use when I get a little more active. I can walk right now, but I'm trying to stay immobile."

Dr. John Carbone, a surgeon and director of orthopedic spine services at Harbor Hospital, is not Napravnik's physician, but spoke in general terms about such injuries.

"As long as the spine is in alignment, it just takes time [for healing]," he said. "And when a bone heals, it's just as strong as it was before it was injured -- once the healing process is complete.

"It shouldn't bother her when she returns to riding. Hopefully, there will be no long-term consequences. Sometimes, there can be chronic pain, but it's the minority of people who experience that."

Napravnik's agent, John Faltynski, said it is standard procedure to obtain a second opinion after a hard fall such as the one Napravnik took Friday.

The accident happened when Napravnik's mount, Look Out Lorie, fell after finishing second in the sixth race, tossing her rider. Behind her, jockey Ryan Fogelsonger's mount, Known Thief, couldn't avoid Napravnik's horse and also tripped, sending Fogelsonger to the ground.

Fogelsonger was shaken up, but walked away uninjured.

"The first opinion we had wasn't from a specialist," Faltynski said about the need for a second opinion. "She was originally checked out by X-ray, but it was a hurried thing. Everyone wanted to know exactly how she was an hour after the accident.

"She was in a lot of pain and is still in a lot of pain. She's still hurting every time she moves."

Though currently sidelined jockey Steve Hamilton is recovering from injuries in a car accident that included broken vertebrae, the breaks were in his upper back. Track officials said they could not remember an injury similar to Napravnik's at a major Maryland track.

This is Napravnik's second major injury in her 20-month career. In November 2005, she fractured her left collarbone in a fall and missed nearly six weeks. When she came back, she dominated her competition in the Maryland jockey colony, winning the riding titles at all four meets at Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course.

"She's a tough kid," Faltynski said.

Napravnik has 387 career victories -- including 300 in 2006 -- and has earnings of $8 million.

"It's very frustrating whenever you get a setback like this," said Napravnik, who will turn 19 on Feb. 9. "You go from doing well and being active to a complete halt in your career and everyday life. Coming from the Eclipse Awards several weeks ago, I was getting so many compliments and given a lot of confidence as far as my riding goes, so I was excited to get better.

"I was very optimistic about this year, but it's going to [have to] wait a while."

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