McCarthy on comeback trail

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Not a particularly nice day at Laurel Park in mid-December, those are few and far between. The track was quite sloppy from a cold rain falling all morning. The crowd was sparse at best but that never stopped racing before. Jockeys dismounted in the paddock as not to get their boots dirty, but one was missing, apprentice jockey Trevor McCarthy.

McCarthy returned to the jock’s room well behind the rest covered in mud, boots and all. When turning for home, a rival swerved in front of the young rider causing his horse to clip heels and stumble. McCarthy somersaulted to the unforgiving surface. Unscathed, McCarthy did finally return, walking, lucky.

Injuries are a part of the game. Horse racing is unpredictable. As a jockey, split second decisions need to be made, something that can only be learned with experience. McCarthy was learning every day.

He was learning to win. Something his father, Michael McCarthy, taught him well as a successful jockey in his own right. By the end of the Laurel winter meet in March, the younger McCarthy had already won his first stakes on Linda Gaudet’s and Morris Bailey’s Concealed Identity. He also made New Year’s Day a four-peat, and finished off the meet second in the standings with 51 wins.

The spring at Pimlico was no different. McCarthy was on a roll, racking up six wins in the opening week. But on the morning of April l 11, Trevor was sidelined with a fractured tibia, complete with three screws.

“I heard a pop when I hit the ground” McCarthy said.

That morning McCarthy was breezing a horse for veteran trainer King Leatherbury, when the horse wheeled and catapulted him to the ground. The doctor said six to eight weeks. McCarthy would be back on horses in seven. McCarthy started jogging and galloping horses for Michael Trombetta and Graham Motion last week at Fair Hill. He hopes to be back in racing shape early next month.

“I’m just getting fit now, but the only way to get fit is to ride,” he said. “I should be ready in July.”

With every injury comes time, and in racing time off means people forget you. McCarthy doesn’t seem too worried.

“I’ve been going out in the mornings, and people are always asking when I’m coming back,” he said.

In an apprentice jockey’s world timing is everything. An apprentice has a year from the time he wins his fifth race to win as many races as possible. The ultimate goal: the Eclipse Award. McCarthy is no exception, “just to be nominated would be great.” He’s being modest.

While some may fizzle out when they lose their weight allowance, McCarthy has not even let that cross his mind.

“I want to ride forever, I just love it.”

McCarthy will make his comeback at Delaware Park and Monmouth Park due to Maryland’s six-week hiatus during the Colonial Downs meet. He goes into the summer fresh and confident, with a goal in mind, eager to prove himself once again.