By Jennie Rees
FRANKLIN, Ky. (Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018) — A stakes-winning owner during Kentucky Downs recent meet is donating $5,000 for assistance to Kendrick Carmouche, the jockey who sustained a severely fractured leg when his mount fell after being forced to clip heels.
“Our group was fortunate enough to win a large purse at Kentucky Downs,” said the owner, who did not want to be identified. “Sadly, Kendrick Carmouche did not fare as well as we did.
“Jockeys are as integral a part of our sport as are owners and the horses themselves. Kendrick is expected to be sidelined four to six months. Even with insurance, that’s a very long time to be unable to work, and expenses mount quickly. We are pleased to share some of our good fortune with Kendrick and his family for their use during his recovery. We hope other owners who benefited from the racing at Kentucky Downs will do the same.”
Those wishing to contribute can send checks (or similar) made out to Kendrick Carmouche and mailed to the Jockeys’ Guild, 448 Lewis Hargett Circle, Suite 220, Lexington, KY 40503. The Guild will ensure all contributions go directly to the jockey and his family.
Carmouche’s mount, Chattel, was among the leaders in midstretch of the $500,000 Kentucky Downs Juvenile Turf Sprint on Sept. 8 when another horse vying for the lead, Sovereign Impact, came out and forced Chattel to clip heels and fall. Chattel sustained a fractured shoulder and had to be euthanized. Sovereign Impact was disqualified to last for interference and his rider, Adam Beschizza, was handed a three-day suspension for careless riding by the stewards for causing the mishap.
The 34-year-old Carmouche suffered a fracture to his right femur, a high fracture in the thigh bone that occurred right below his hip, he said. Orthopedic surgeon Phil Kregor, an internationally recognized expert in complex fracture care, performed surgery the following day at north Nashville’s TriStar Skyline Medical Center, inserting a rod and four surgical screws to stabilize the injury, Carmouche said.
Carmouche said he was walking with assistance the next day.
“This is my first time ever getting hurt in my career, and I’ve been riding for 20 years,” the Louisiana native said by phone. “You never know how many people you touch throughout the years and respect you give everybody, and the respect you get from everybody. The 20 years I’ve been riding, I must have touched a lot of people.
“I’m always a happy guy, a happy-go-lucky guy. You never see me sad. I try to push that on people. That being said, for all the people who love me and my family, who are reaching out for me, trying to work through this with me and pray for me, I just want to tell them ‘thank you so much.’ It makes me happy. I’ve done my part in life, and it’s not done yet, so we just have to keep looking forward for better days. I’m blessed.”
Carmouche said Kregor plans to make trips to Delaware to oversee the jockey’s therapy “until I get back on a horse.”
“God sent an angel,” he said of Kregor. “We send him a picture every day of the progress of me walking, the swelling going down in my leg tremendously. He called this morning while I was in therapy, talking to the guy working with me. Everything is going so lovely. It’s just good to know there are so many good people in the world. It warms my heart; it should warm everybody’s heart.”
While the prognosis is that Carmouche will be off four to six months, he said Kregor suspects the rider could shorten that timeline, “‘just because the kind of person you are.’
“He said, ‘You’re not one of these people who will sit down on your butt and just sulk. You want to get it done. You don’t see this as a setback. You see it as things happen in life and you have to go forward.’”
Carmouche said he started therapy with a two-hour session Monday, Sept. 17. “I left out of there feeling so good that I thought I could have walked,” he said. “I tell you, God is really great.”
The father of two also wanted to publicly acknowledge his wife, Whitney, who flew into Nashville the morning after the accident; Jockeys’ Guild national manager Terry Meyocks and Guild attorney Mindy Coleman; and Kentucky Downs’ management, including president Corey Johnsen, and the track’s emergency medical personnel. Carmouche said that trainer Joe Sharp and owners Brad and Misty Grady, who had another horse in the stakes, provided great comfort by coming to the hospital, keeping him company and speaking with the doctors as he awaited Whitney’s arrival.
Kentucky Downs carries a $1 million per-accident policy on its riders that covers medical expenses and provides basic short-term disability payments when on-track injuries occur.
Carmouche said his only sadness relates to the death of Chattel and how that impacts owner David Baxter and young trainer Brandon McFarlane. Chattel, with Carmouche up, won Saratoga’s $100,000 Skidmore Stakes by 3 1/4 lengths at 22-1 odds to become one of the favorites for the Kentucky Downs race. McFarlane began training last year, with Chattel his first stakes horse.
“It was a loss to Mr. Dave and Brandon, such a young trainer,” Carmouche said. “They’re like family. I’m just glad I was part of it with Chattel. He was such a really nice horse. We could have gone places with him.”