04/25/2013 3:33PM

Belmont: Velazquez expects to resume riding Wednesday

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Barbara D. Livingston
John Velazquez says he plans to come back from his fractured rib slowly, riding one horse next Wednesday and building up to four mounts on Kentucky Derby Day.

ELMONT, N.Y. – Jockey John Velazquez, who fractured a rib in a spill at Aqueduct on April 7, said everything is on schedule for him to return to the saddle next Wednesday, four days before he is to ride Verrazano in the Kentucky Derby on May 4.

Velazquez said Thursday that he is scheduled to meet with his orthopedist on Monday to get final clearance and he hopes to get on a horse or two Tuesday morning at Belmont.

In a phone interview Thursday, Velazquez said he is “doing really good” and that he has been working out for several days.

[DERBY WATCH: Top 20 Kentucky Derby contenders with odds and video]

Velazquez said he will take it slow on his return, just as he did last summer at Saratoga when he returned from a seven-week layoff following a fractured collarbone sustained in a June spill at Churchill.

He plans to ride one horse Wednesday at Belmont, two horses Thursday at Belmont, three on Friday at Churchill – including Dreaming of Julia in the Kentucky Oaks – and four on Derby Day.

“I’m being realistic. I’m going to give 100 percent to every horse I’m riding,” Velazquez said. “I’m not going to ride three horses the first day and be tired by the time I get to the third one. I’m going to build my strength back little by little.”

Velazquez said he is committed to ride Point of Entry in the Woodford Reserve on Derby Day so if Wise Dan runs in that race, he will have to forego the mount on the reigning Horse of the Year. Jose Lezcano, who rode Wise Dan in Velazquez’s absent in the Maker’s 46 Mile, would most likely get that mount.

Speaking of commitments, Velazquez said that he was always committed to ride Verrazano in the Kentucky Derby and really didn’t have a decision to make between the undefeated Wood Memorial winner and Florida Derby winner Orb.

“We were already committed to Verrazano from the beginning,” he said. “We wound up on Orb and it was nice of Shug [McGaughey] to let me ride him. If something had happened to the other horse maybe I could have got back on him.”

Mr. Ed More than 1 year ago
Don't think this story is as simple as this. After being off for weeks and just getting back on horses Wednesday, there is no doubt that by Saturday he'll be sore. Maybe it will affect things maybe it won't. A top rider like him will push through it, but he'll be feeling it.
Sharjil Ahmad More than 1 year ago
As strong of a relationship Johny has with Pletcher, Verrazno still is very impressive. Has anyone looked at that horse ? He has a better shot at KD than most of the people give him credit for. Johny made the right move overall. Pletcher supports him alot. And its natural for him to support Pletcher in KD.
Sam More than 1 year ago
When he got hurt, the news release stated he also had a serious wrist injury. It would seem to me that that would present more of a problem if it is not 100% okay on Derby day because the wrist Is the most important physical part of a jockey's ability to handle 1200 plus lbs of horse going 40mph. He didn't say anything about his wrist.
Alex More than 1 year ago
If I was McGaughey and I read those comments, id never ride Velazquez again. It's an insult to Shug and Orb's owners.
Sharjil Ahmad More than 1 year ago
Why is it an insult ? Riding an undefeated horse in the Derby is a no-brainer. Shug understands the whole chemistry. Johny has to support pletcher as pletcher supports him all year around. Plus Verrazano is an excellent horse. Likely favorite. Riding a favorite or the second choice in the derby is an insult for the other trainer ? you crazy...
zerosumzen More than 1 year ago
I like Johnny V, of course, but if he's rushing back to race in the Derby that could hurt the chances of some top horses that weekend.
B More than 1 year ago
I like the guy, but this is a bit of BS. Why did he say on live TV that he needed to take time to make a decision between Verrazano and Orb if he was already committed. In any event, I think he is on the wrong horse. Since breaking his maiden, Verrazano's distances have grown progressively longer while at the same time his winning margins have gotten smaller and his Beyers have gotten lower. I would be surprised if he liked a mile and a quarter, but I've been surprised before. If he can't handle the distance, I hope it's Orb who overtakes him, but this being the Derby, it will probably be a horse that I am not even contemplating. I think Orb looks like a true distance horse, but above all, I would love to see Shug win a Derby. I've been saying for weeks that THE race of the weekend is not the Derby, but the Oaks, which truly has an outstanding field. However, if Wise Dan attempts to take on Point of Entry in the Woodford, THAT will be the race of the weekend. At a mile, it's Wise Dan, at a mile and a quarter or longer, it's POE, but at a mile and an eighth, it's a contest.
J.L. Boey More than 1 year ago
The Kentucky Derby is always the race of the weekend. I think JV was telling the truth about Verrazano. The pause in announcing was simply to create suspense and just in case something happens to his big horse.
Slew32A More than 1 year ago
Create suspense? Is he Alfred Hitchcock now?
Sam More than 1 year ago
I think you're right about Verrazano and the distance. He only won the Wood by 1/4 lg. Don't believe that JV knew he had it won and was just easing him in. The colt looks like he's just out for a handride, but it's just his style, and, besides, The Wood was the first time he met some real competition. I think he spits the bit out at the eighth pole or shortly thereafter. Doubts about Orb for fear an "unknown" will show up and win the marbles? Take a look at Mylute. DRF's Jay and Mike rate Revolutionary fourth best. In the La.Derby, he beat Mylute by a head, yet, Mylute had a worse trip, and his jock was Bridgmohanan. Look back a couple races in Mylute's PPs and you'll see where Rosie had him up front and won. Cheaper race, but she's far and away one of the best jocks today. She'll improve him five or more lengths in the Derby. My long shot.
J.L. Boey More than 1 year ago
Only if the race is run at Fairgrounds. Rosie not that hot in Kentucky and New York.
Bellwether4U More than 1 year ago
@ this point in time he is the best Jockey in this nation...Period...
Mike More than 1 year ago
He's very talented for sure, but it's very difficult to make an argument against Joel Rosario being the nation's top jock right now. Joel put up great numbers at GP (and Keeneland) without the benefit of a stable like Pletcher's. I like Johnny, but think Rosario is the future.
Randy Baker More than 1 year ago
Agreed
Slew32A More than 1 year ago
I'd say Rosario also, personally I don't think Ramon is coming back.
wolves More than 1 year ago
top 3 (no particular order) ramon johnny joel i b a pro, so dont bother arguing w/ me
denali1 More than 1 year ago
Welcome Back Johnnie V! Stay Blessed!
hialeah More than 1 year ago
Always have enjoyed the love and devotion that JRV has provided the game which most of us love (and many embrase daily). It will be a sad, empty day when Johnny V hangs up his tack, many years from now. Have a healthy return and a great trip in the Derby.
Chris Rush More than 1 year ago
No mater what horse Mr. Velazquez rides I am really impressed by the relationship he,Todd Pletcher & Angel Cordero keep.Appears to be a heck of a bond.
Slew32A More than 1 year ago
Yea, some bond. Let's see, the guy always has not one but numerous horses running in the biggest races, yep there's the bond.