Jockeys undergo more concussion tests as brain injury concerns increase

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(WKYT) -- A Preakness Stakes-winning jockey says he has suffered serious head injuries during his career, and he is undergoing more concussion testing as he nears the Kentucky Derby.

Robby Albarado has been a career jockey since 1990. In 2007, he won his first Triple Crown racer at the Preakness Stakes aboard Curling. He also rode Curling to victory in the Breeders' Cup Classic. He has won more than 5,000 races in his career, and there is not a bone in his body that doesn't know it.

Albarado has undergone 14 surgeries from head to toe, including one procedure following an accident where he crushed his skull. Doctors had to replace a portion of his skull with metal as a result.

"Before going to surgery we ask when we can come back," Albarado says.

WKYT caught up with the jockey at Keeneland during the Spring Meet, where they are now undergoing a new baseline concussion test. Jockeys must complete the 15-minute test if they are riding at Keeneland, and the procedure is done every year.

"We were very interested in creating a baseline test to see where people are when they start," University of Kentucky College of Health Sciences doctor Carl Mattacola says, "One example is it's similar to having your blood pressure checked if you come in one year and know what your blood pressure is, and you come in another year and it's changed we have that baseline to compare to."

Kentucky doctors at the Sports Medical Research Institute are utlilizing the state-of-the-art facility to better check for brain trauma.

"Back in the old days, they didn't have the equipment or knowledge or understanding," Mattacola says.

Albarado admits during his career, he probably had concussions and didn't know it, but he is glad more testing is being done so he and other jockeys are more aware of what they put their brains through.

"I think it put a little more fear in us now, which is a good thing because it wasn't a big deal back then, but it was and we're realizing it."

Albarado is riding longshot Free Drop Billy (40-1) in the Kentucky Derby.



 
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