Driver Andy Miller, seriously injured in an April 15 race accident at Yonkers Raceway, told harnessracing.com Tuesday morning that despite the prognosis of six months of recovery time, "The upside of it is that I am going to be back. This is not a career-ending injury.”
Miller, 45, broke a pair of lumbar vertebrae in his back after Marmara Denzi, the horse he was driving in the first race that night, hooked wheels with the fallen George Brennan-driven In The Clear. While Brennan was unhurt, Miller was catapulted from the sulky.
"I hooked his wheel and it launched me in the air,” said Miller. "I remember landing and being in excruciating pain. I landed right on my butt and I knew something seriously was wrong because I couldn't move.”
Miller underwent eight hours of surgery the following morning at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York City, a procedure that included removing bone fragments that were perilously close to his spine.
"There were bone fragments up against my spine but they don't think there was any damage,” said Miller, who was released from the hospital on Monday night. "The doctors think that once it all heals it will be very stable.”
Miller spoke to harnessracing.com from his home in Millstone Township, N.J., a few minutes after taking a short walk and shower.
"I had a decent night and I just got back after taking a walk and a shower, which was my first in a week,” said Miller, who is wearing a back brace. "That felt really good. I'm back in bed now and it was nice to go for a walk because it is so nice outside. The doctors told me to do all the walking I want.”
Miller has been able to watch races on his IPad, but he says the worst part is not being at Gaitway Farm to help his wife, Julie, with their 45 horses.
"They want me to keep walking, so maybe in a week or two I could take a ride to the barn and watch the horses train,” said Miller, who has 8,054 career wins and $100.9 million in purse earnings. "It just depends on how tired I get with the little walks here at home. I really hate missing racing and being there for all our horses and everybody else's horses that I've been racing.”
Miller said he doesn't expect too much of a scramble finding drivers for the stable's horses.
"We have some good horses and the top guys, they won't all be totally committed in each division,” he said. "Hopefully we can hook up with one of the top guys for our better horses.”