Fires Awaits Return to Arlington Jockey Room While Broken Leg Heals
Alesia, Mark, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Byline: Mark Alesia Daily Herald Sports Feature Writer
Gourmet coffee and hand-held wagering machines are among the innovations Arlington International Racecourse will offer in 1996. Eventually, a jockey in his 32nd season, Earlie Fires, will be there, too.
Fires, the career leader in victories at Arlington, is still recovering from a broken left leg he suffered in the starting gate Jan. 2 at Calder Racecourse in Miami.
He hoped to be back for Arlington's opening day Sunday. He's sure he will be back sometime, perhaps in a matter of weeks, but he's not sure exactly when.
"I wish I could give you a time," Fires said. "I know I can't do my job this way, and I don't want to cheat the public and the owners and the trainers. I want to wait until I'm ready to do my job."
The injury occurred as Fires, 49, was warming up for the Gulfstream meeting. He rode two races the day before and planned to ride two more on the closing day of Calder's meeting.
In the second of those two races, Fires was in the middle of dismounting from a horse acting up in the starting gate. Part of the back of the gate was opened, allowing the horse, Dove Song, to move enough to twist Fires' leg like a screwdriver.
Fires suffered a spiral break in his tibia and a clean break in his fibula. Fires described it as a freak accident, not assessing any blame.
He returned to his Palatine home in late January, passing the time by watching television and working on his farm.
"Believe it or not, he's been fine," Fires' wife, Kathy, said. …