Jockey rides again after year of injuries, health woes

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX -- A Phoenix jockey is back in the saddle after a year riddled with bad luck, and a long road to recovery.

Gallyn Mitchell won two consecutive races Monday at Turf Paradise. And the 52-year-old jockey feels lucky not only to be racing once again, but lucky to be alive, after a long year filled with injuries and health problems.

"Well, last August I had a horse get me down and step on my thumb," he says. "I got over that and came back for a last meet, and two days before Christmas, I had a spill here and I broke my back in two spots, and my ankle."

If that wasn't bad enough, he suffered a massive heart attack while recovering from those breaks.

"I'm very fortunate and lucky to be here," he says. "The doctor told my wife I shouldn't have made it to the hospital. I should have been dead."

Mitchell says he knew he wanted to be a jockey from the time he was three, and feels now he's being given a second chance. He loves the competition and the camaraderie of horse racing and plans on riding until he can no longer sit in the saddle. However, his wife, who is also his agent, would prefer he slow down after his incredible year of bad luck.

And as far as winning both races that we photographed Monday as part of our 3TV report?  Mitchell says while it was just a coincidence, it probably didn't hurt his chances knowing he'd be on TV.