Author: Wynn Elliott

The shocking, heartbreaking story of exercise rider Shelly Stone

By Daniel Ross It’s one the biggest challenges – if not the biggest – facing racing in the United States today: compensation for injured backstretch workers. Insuring they are provided for properly is an absolute need, but the cost is almost impossible to bear for the industry. This is the first of a major three-part report on the issue by Daniel Ross, during which he meets a wheelchair-bound former exercise rider whose ongoing plight will leave many lost for words … In the early hours of February 18, 2011, Laurel Park racetrack was typically cold and overcast. And under the heavy gun-metal grey sky draped over the barns and the trees that ringed the track, exercise rider Shelly Stone was in a hurry. The track was about to close for the renovation break, and Shelly needed to beat the clock with a strapping but bloody-minded young colt. Typically, she would take him out with another horse for company, but on this particular morning she was on her own. They did find another horse briefly at the start, but Shelly and the colt were too fast for their company, and quickly they were out alone. When they reached the top of the turn not far from the inner rail, the colt propped and wheeled. Shelly’s left stirrup broke, and she was pitched over the rail onto the cold hard ground....

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‘Shameful to witness’: how Shelly Stone was treated after the riding accident that put her in a wheelchair

By Daniel Ross In the first part of this major report on one of the most serious issues facing horse racing in America today, Daniel Ross introduced Shelly Stone, a former exercise rider who, nearly seven years ago, was left wheelchair-bound with a broken neck after a riding accident during morning training at Laurel Park. Shelly’s story highlights many significant problems with the workers’ compensation system as it pertains to the racing industry nationally. Here in part two, Ross explores these problems, breaking down some of the complications each state faces as they grapple with an issue that some trainers say is driving them out of business. And he delves deeper into Shelly’s long battle with a system that was supposed to help her. When Shelly Stone broke her neck on the morning of February 18, 2011, she was immediately rushed to the nearby Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, then later moved to the National Rehabilitation Hospital across town to begin the healing process. But when she left the rehab facility and moved home, her relationship with Tower Insurance Co. of New York, the workers’ compensation carrier responsible for her case, quickly soured. At one point within months of leaving the rehab facility, Tower Insurance stopped paying her medical expenses altogether, said Shelly’s brother, Andy Stone, a sports coach at a private school in Virginia. And the company refused to...

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The states that may be close to solving racing’s ‘massive problem’ of workers’ compensation

By Daniel Ross This is the third part of a special report on one of the biggest challenges facing horse racing in the United States – workers’ compensation. In parts one and two, Daniel Ross told the story of Shelly Stone, a former exercise rider who, nearly seven years ago, was left wheelchair-bound after a riding accident during training at Laurel Park. Her story highlights some of the glaring cracks in America’s workers’ compensation system. Here he explores the toll the accident has taken on Shelly and her family. He also looks at some of the self-insured programs implemented around the country, and asks the question: can and should these same programs be adopted in other states? Shelly Stone wasn’t born into the sport. Her parents didn’t own horses. Her father, Stephen, was a doctor. Her mother was an administrative assistant at a local court house. But Shelly couldn’t have been engineered any better for the game. Even at her adult riding weight, she clocked in at a feather-light 103 lbs. As Shelly’s brother, Andy, describes it, “she was a great athlete and she was a great rider. She had nerves of steel and she was really strong.” Indeed, Shelly was a precocious athlete. At four, she could walk on her hands. “She was a phenomenon,” said Stephen, now an exercise physiologist who oversees his daughter’s therapy. Racetrack life The...

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Dylan Davis registers five-win Sunday at the Big A

By NYRA Press Office It was a super Sunday for jockey Dylan Davis, who rode five winners from eight mounts on the day’s program at Aqueduct Racetrack. Davis notched his first career five-win day on the New York Racing Association circuit, starting off the day by piloting Sara Street ($8.60) to victory in Race 1. In Race 3, Davis led favorite Lutheran Rags ($4.00) to a one-length score and added victories aboard Simona ($4.50) in Race 5; Flash Trading ($9.40) in Race 8; and Casigordo ($21.80) in a thrilling finish at the wire over Ransom Note in the finale....

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