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.

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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.”