Jockey Kent Desormeaux, who suffered a separated left clavicle in a spill at Laurel Thursday, was examined and treated at Children's Hospital in Baltimore yesterday, where his physician estimated he'll need four to six weeks to recover.
Dr. J.T.H. Johnson placed Desormeaux's left arm in a sling designed to keep his collarbone and shoulder immobilized.
"I feel fine," Desormeaux said yesterday from the home of jockey Alberto Delgado, who also is recovering from a collarbone injury incurred in a spill. "I'm not hurting at all, but my shoulder's pretty sore; I can't lift my arm over my head."
Desormeaux, who turns 18 today, went down in the first race Thursday when his mount, Marcia's Moon, ran into the rear heels of Light Performer and fell. Beltline, who finished first under John Baboolal, was disqualified and placed last for impeding Light Performer and causing the spill.
As a result, Laurel's stewards yesterday suspended Baboolal seven days, beginning Tuesday.
Although the injury will deny him important mounts astride such Triple Crown aspirants as Private Terms and Finder's Choice, Desormeaux may not miss Thirty Eight Go Go's next race; the 3-year-old filly developed a fever in Florida and will not run in Wednesday's Bonnie Miss Stakes at Gulfstream Park, according to trainer King Leatherbury.
Leatherbury also considered running Thirty Eight Go Go in the Florida Oaks at Tampa Bay Downs on March 12, but yesterday said that is not likely because of the filly's disrupted training schedule.
At Delgado's home yesterday, Desormeaux was in the company of a jockey whose career has been stifled in recent months because of recurring broken collarbones. But Desormeaux said he is not concerned about the prospects of re-injury. "The only thing I'm worried about," he said, "is getting back on those stakes horses."
At the time of his injury, Desormeaux led America's jockeys with 89 winners and was on pace to eclipse Chris McCarron's world record of 546 victories in a year. Desormeaux won a U.S.-high 450 races in 1987.
But, in becoming Maryland's dominant jockey, Desormeaux has adopted a style that some riders perceive as risky. Jimmy Edwards, who had a clear view of Thursday's fall, said Desormeaux tends to ride overaggressively; yesterday, other veteran jockeys concurred.
"He does take a lot of chances," Mike Hunter said. "I used to do the same kind of stuff, until I was dropped on my head a few times. That fall should have been avoided; Kent should have taken back long before he did."
Donald Miller Jr., who was Maryland's top jockey before Desormeaux arrived in the fall of 1986, said, "A lot of older riders may use better judgment, but they learn that through experience. They don't cut that fine line too much. On the other hand, a little bit of caution can be construed as a nonaggressive ride. What people don't realize is that it's dangerous enough as it is.
"Granted, Kent's a good little rider, one of the best we've had around here in a long time. And although you hate to see another rider go down, it'll probably make him even better in the long run."
Vince Bracciale Jr., who has won 3,400 career races, lauded Desormeaux's technique.
"Overaggressive? I don't feel that way at all," Bracciale said. "To do good, a rider has to take these chances. I think, in that particular incident, he could have taken back before he did. But that's still a split-second decision you're talking about.
"He tries hard. He'll come through where it's tight, and he takes a lot of risks. But that's what it takes to win."