Updated on 11/02/2013 9:16PM

Breeders' Cup: Velazquez has surgery to remove his spleen


ARCADIA, Calif. – Jockey John Velazquez on Saturday afternoon underwent emergency surgery to have his spleen removed at a Pasadena hospital after he was thrown from his mount, Secret Compass, who fatally broke down during the running of Saturday’s $2 million Juvenile Fillies, the first of the day’s nine Breeders’ Cup races run at Santa Anita.

Velazquez was taken to Huntington Memorial Hospital, where X-rays on all his extremities were negative. However, just prior to being released, Velazquez was complaining of nausea and a scan revealed blood in his spleen, according to former Hall of Fame jockey Angel Cordero Jr., Velazquez’s agent.

Secret Compass was euthanized after being diagnosed with an unsalvageable leg fracture.

The accident prevented Velazquez from riding the remainder of the Breeders’ Cup card, including Wise Dan who, with Jose Lezcano aboard, won the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Mile for the second straight year. Lezcano has ridden Wise Dan four times, including twice in the spring when subbing for Velazquez who suffered a fractured rib in an April 7 spill at Aqueduct.

“I feel bad for Johnny and I feel bad for his family; this is not the way you want to pick up good horses,” Lezcano said. “Johnny’s one of the best guys in the business, he’s got a lot of class, he always takes care of everybody, and you feel bad for him that something happened like that, especially to a guy like him.”

Despite winning the Mile for the second straight year, Charlie LoPresti, the trainer of Wise Dan, was subdued in the post-race press conference, owing to Velazquez’s status.

“My heart goes out to Johnny and his family, I really wanted more than anything for Johnny to ride this horse today, he’s done so much with him,” LoPresti said. “But Jose did a great job. He’s always picked him up when Johnny’s gotten hurt.”

In the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic, Rafael Bejarano picked up the mount on Palace Malice, who finished sixth.

“The only thing we’re hoping is to get him back and to feel okay,” Bejarano said. “I feel honored to have Johnny’s horse in the last one.”

Gary Stevens replaced Velazquez on Havana and finished second in the Juvenile, while Joel Rosario rode Alterite to a third-place finish in the Filly and Mare Turf.

Earlier this year, Velazquez became North America’s all-time leading rider in purse money won with more than $298 million. In July, he won his 5,000th career race, and in August he became the all-time winningest rider in the history of Saratoga.

Douglas Amos More than 1 year ago
The best live like very few human beings can. To do so, they ride horses that are treated with the kind of impeccable care that seldom befalls any form of life. Entangled in this union, lurks the greatest of dangers. The epitome of excellence; the unmatchable of thrills, the bluntest of disappointment. From almost every important perspective, the business demands risk.
Patrick Craddock More than 1 year ago
very well said
Donald Ernst More than 1 year ago
Truer words have not been written.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Does anyone know for sure that Cordero had to undergo this same surgery?
Lefty More than 1 year ago
Speedy Recovery Johnny V!
Linda Steer More than 1 year ago
Sad day a Breeders Cup. I do not place bets nor watch 2 year olds race, in my opinion they are too young. Rest in peace Secret Compass . Johnny V. Wish you a speedy recovery.
Happy Harriet More than 1 year ago
I'm with you, Linda. I have a two year old filly. NEVER EVER AGAIN will I be involved with young horses, especially fillies, and although I tout freedom of choice and wish that for all people everywhere, I would URGE everyone DO NOT BUY A TWO YEAR OLD, TRAIN A TWO YEAR OLD, or RACE A TWO YEAR OLD. They are not mature, their bones are developing. AND - Trainers are not sensitive enough to the needs of these young horses. I'm not saying this about Mr. Baffert or pointing any fingers directly at anyone. But this is TRUE from my experience - a very very SAD experience I might add that just gets worse and worse as the days go by. There's NO NEED to be pushing these young fillies.
gallopingtom More than 1 year ago
As a lover of horse racing this really saddened me. I was watching it on NBC and it looked horrific. JV is a very lucky man today. Thank goodness, they diagnosed his spleen before he rushed back to S.A. On a side note, events like this horrify casual observers. Most people don't have the stomach for it. Who can blame them? It's very difficult to attract new fans when this is something they see first.
Gerald Sabo More than 1 year ago
Hey Kram Hslew, If you had a brain, you would be dangerous.
Jim Durslag More than 1 year ago
Hey Kram Hslew...what barm were you born in...what a low life comment about John V.
Bustedbox2 More than 1 year ago
Really too bad for Johnny, Secret Compass, and her connections. The torrential rain storm early last month at Keeneland cost J.R. a win on Wise Dan when the Shadwell Turf Classic was taken off the turf, and the horrible spill on Breeders" Cup Day cost him one sure win on Wise Dan and possibly more. It has been an injury filled year for America's top jockey, and all of racing wish him a fast and speedy recovery.
The Baron More than 1 year ago
Good thing Johnny V did not have an HMO or they would have just let him walk out and croak!! He is a class act and wish him the Best!! But this is not good - this may well be it for him as a jockey.... I do not think he has ever ridden for Baffert before that I can recall - if he ever rides again my money is on him never riding another one for Baffert ever again!! Martin Garcia has brass balls to ride these Baffert horses that is for sure!!
John King More than 1 year ago
May thelord Jesus bless u n heal u quikly