04/06/2013 3:18PM

Aqueduct: Dominguez says brain injury is worse than he had thought

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Barbara D. Livingston
Ramon Dominguez, injured in a January spill at Aqueduct, will need longer to recover than he had hoped.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Jockey Ramon Dominguez said Saturday that the brain injury he suffered in a spill at Aqueduct in January was more severe than he first thought, and while he continues to make progress his return to the saddle is still several months away.

“I still continue to do therapy and after seeing the doctors I realize this brain injury has been a lot more severe than I first thought,” Dominguez said Saturday at Aqueduct, where he was honored as the New York Racing Association’s leading rider for 2012. “I am very happy with my progress and the group of doctors that I have. Everything really lay in the hands of God and the doctors. I’m very hopeful that I can come back soon.”

Dominguez, 36, was injured in a spill Jan. 18, and it was said his injury was a skull fracture. But Dominguez on Saturday called it “a traumatic brain injury.”

“I understand that there are different degrees of brain injury, and this was pretty severe,” Dominguez said.

Dominguez met with doctors on March 25, and at that time he was not given clearance to get back on horses in the morning as he had hoped. He said is not expected to meet again with doctors until June.

“My brain is still not healed all the way,” Dominguez said. “So at this point I’m taking it day by day and doing my therapies.”

Dominguez, the three-time reigning Eclipse Award winning rider, wouldn’t venture a guess on when he could return, though he said he would love to be ready by the time Saratoga opens on July 19.

“The more I talk to the doctors I realize how it was, and I know that the smartest thing to do is do what they say and continue my therapy,” Dominguez said. “I don’t want to give anybody hope or even myself when really everything’s in the doctor’s hands.”

In the meantime, Dominguez has given his agent, Steve Rushing, permission to take another jockey. Beginning Wednesday, Rushing will start booking mounts for Cornelio Velasquez, who is currently leading the standings at Aqueduct’s main track and who was rumored to be heading to Calder at the beginning of May.

New York rules permit an agent to handle the book of two agents, so conceivably Rushing could have both Dominguez and Velasquez at the same time.

“I’m fine with it,” Dominguez said. “Steve’s a super agent. I’m sure he’ll manage to do well with both jockeys.”