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Marino Sidelined Indefinitely

Published: May 23, 2019 6:26 pm ET

Last Comment: May 24, 2019 8:59 am ET | 1 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

Jim Marino last drove in a pari-mutuel event in mid-March at Fraser Downs, and the longtime horseman told Trot Insider that it will be quite some time before he's back in the bike after being injured in a training accident.

The British Columbia-based Marino went down when a two-year-old he was training shied from something in the grandstand at Fraser. The accident resulted in an injury that will keep him on the sidelines for most of the year.

“I’ve fallen down in training accidents before and usually just get bruised or sprained,” Marino said. “But I knew right away when I hit the ground that it was broke. By now I can tell right away whether a bone’s broke or not.”

Upon hitting the ground the it Marino broke was his pelvis, into five pieces to the joint. An ambulance soon came and took Marino to hospital where he underwent surgery and stayed a total of 16 days.

“It was tough before the surgery,” Marino said, “because the joint was unstable -- it was broke to the joint in five pieces -- and I didn’t like being moved at all. In the first night at the hospital I slept in the ambulance bed...I wouldn’t let them move me; it hurt too much.”

The operation required surgeons to cut through muscles and nerves to get to the pelvis, which has relegated Marino to crutches over the last couple of weeks. With some screws and 70 staples put in place to repair the broken bone, his most recent x-ray showed the fracture is still open. This will keep Marino on crutches until, per doctor’s orders, he can build his leg’s weight tolerance back up.

Marino has endured many accidents over his 20-year driving career, resulting in most of his bones at some point either fracturing or breaking.

“In 2015 I was in a race and went down,” Marino said. “I broke, I don't know, 15 bones. They had to redo my PCL and my ACL, and they had to put a screw in my tibia and three more screws in my femur in the left leg. Then I broke my fibula in my right leg and all my fingers on my left hand and my wrist. I didn’t drive in a race for seven or eight months but it took about four or five months just to be able to walk without a cane.

“I broke my right ankle, left wrist twice, left elbow, fingers, right wrist, right elbow, left shoulder, ribs,” Marino also said. “I went to the same hospital, same floor, same staff from 2015 and they had the MRIs that showed I broke two vertebrae in my back -- I didn’t even know about it -- and it healed on its own over the last four years. I fractured my kneecap in Calgary last summer and had my teeth go through my lip. I honestly thought the odds are in my favour but I guess I was wrong.”

Compounding injuries has gradually pushed Marino away from his catch driving, which gave him an opportunity in 2011 to race east at the Meadowlands and in Ontario, and turned his focus more to training.

“When I got hurt in 2015, to slow down on the catch driving and get my own barn,” Marino said. “I always had a few horses but I never had a big barn, and I actually had a little bit of luck; I had a homebred who made a few hundred thousand and did well in the stakes program out here. In that sense I’m glad I stayed home because we made some money in the training and owning side of the business. I cut back on my driving, trying not to drive as many maiden races or cheaper races for people, and it ended up training got me [injured].”

The accident has left Marino wondering whether he’ll make a return to driving or not.

“When I was younger, quite a few times you just bounce, get up and brush yourself off. Then I’d get fractures and get a cast on it, cut it off and get back to driving. But now it’s getting to the point where every time I break something they want to put a screw in it.

“But I was never too worried about [an accident] happening again,” Marino also said, “but now I have to rethink the situation because they’re going to run out of places to screw me back together. I have awhile until I can get back in the race bike...I can’t even get back into the jog cart for quite awhile. When I do I’ll have to rethink my situation and whether I want to continue driving, and if I do, whether I want to keep driving out west.”

In the meantime, Marino recoups at home as he waits for the fracture to seal. His barn has since shipped to trainer Amy Henry in Calgary for the Century Downs and Century Mile meets, but Marino hopes to be back at the barn potentially by the fall.

“I get x-rayed again in about five weeks and we’ll see how the fracture’s healing,” Marino said. “I don’t think I’ll be allowed near any jog carts any time soon. I can’t reinjure this thing...the recovery can be six months to a year before I’m safe enough to risk any kind of crash.

“In Calgary I’m probably not going to be down as trainer at all, but next Fall -- when the Fraser Downs meet opens -- I’m hoping that I can do some kind of work in the barn; whether it be jogging some of the easy/safer ones or just general barn work but I’d like to get back at it as soon as I can.”

(A Trot Insider Exclusive by Ray Cotolo)

May 24, 2019 - 8:59 amWell Jim sure wish you the

Well Jim sure wish you the best of health in the future, I can recognize that the more times you go DOWN, the harder it is to get back up but your one of those fighters that does not give up easily. WEIGH THE PRO'S AND CON'S, make the right decision. WISH YOU A QUICK RECOVERY AND LUCK IN THE FUTURE,(THE BEST OF LUCK). My prayers will be with you.

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