Updated on 06/19/2012 10:15AM

Churchill Downs: Velazquez breaks collarbone in ninth-race spill


LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Jockey John Velazquez sustained  a broken right collarbone and a possible kidney injury in a terrifying spill that occurred at the sixteenth pole during the ninth race Saturday night at Churchill Downs.

Velazquez’s longtime agent, Angel Cordero Jr., said Sunday morning it was possible that Velazquez would be released later in the day from Audubon Hospital, where the 40-year-old jockey was taken and admitted Saturday night. Cordero said Velazquez’s wife, Leona, was en route to Louisville from New York to assist her husband in returning home. It was unclear what type of travel restrictions might be placed on Velazquez because of his injury.

The seriousness of the injuries is not known, although typically a collarbone injury requires four to six weeks before a jockey can return to action, barring other complications. Cordero said Velazquez urinated blood Sunday morning and thus arose the possibility of damage to a kidney.

Velazquez was the most seriously hurt of three jockeys thrown to the dirt track in the incident. His mount, Mr. Producer, broke down badly near the sixteenth pole in pursuit of the winner, Lockout, and Velazquez, thrown hard to the dirt surface, appeared to be struck by a trailing horse, Lemansky, a few seconds later.

After a few scary minutes, Velazquez got to his feet, then was strapped to a stretcher. He was transported by ambulance to nearby Audubon, where he spent the night.

When Mr. Producer broke down, he fell immediately into the path of Smart Farda, ridden by Manny Cruz. A few strides later, Lemansky, with John McKee up, was unable to avoid the spill and appeared to strike Velazquez. Both Cruz and McKee were thrown from their mounts but walked away from the incident, with neither seriously hurt. Cruz was scheduled to return to his home in south Florida on Sunday, while McKee had lingering pain in his head and neck from the incident but otherwise was deemed okay by medical personnel.

Mr. Producer, a 4-year-old colt by Dehere, had to be euthanized after suffering grave injuries. He was making his third career start in the 1 1/16-mile maiden race and was owned by Albert Frassetta and Elayne Stable 5 and trained by Graham Motion. “So sad for Mr. Producer,” Motion tweeted late Saturday night. Churchill reported that the other two horses involved in the incident were not seriously injured.

Thirty minutes before the spill, Velazquez finished a close second aboard the odds-on favorite, Wise Dan, in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster, which was won by Ron the Greek.

This is the second time Velazquez has sustained an injury to the same area of his body in a spill at a Kentucky track. In April 2006, he was thrown to the Keeneland turf when Up an Octave suddenly broke down galloping out just seconds after winning the Forerunner Stakes. Velazquez missed the Triple Crown events that spring when out several months with a broken right shoulder, a bruised sternum, and two cracked ribs.

Velazquez was elected to the Racing Hall of Fame earlier this year and will be inducted in August at Saratoga. His biggest career win came at Churchill when he won the 2011 Kentucky Derby aboard Animal Kingdom.

– additional reporting by David Grening


HandicapperErni More than 1 year ago
nice article on john velazquez and get well soon. He’s the rider of today’s generation. http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/sports/2012/06/10/union-rags-john-velasquez-win-at-belmont-boricua-celebration/
ss More than 1 year ago
Why does everyone want sugar coated news on this DRF? Plus, if you read the article and dont want to see the video, you don't have to, its your choice to play the video. You can't keep sweeping accidents, fixed races, cartels running the sport under the rug. Hopefully this is the beginning of DRF getting to the truth of the ongoings of this sport.
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
Why would anybody replay such an incident? Shame on DRF for showing this. It was a horrible accident... could have happened to any horse or any jockey. I'm sure that Mr. Producer was sound going intop the race. Tragic ACCIDENT. See you soon Johnny V. Rest until you are ready. Good luck to you and family. R.I.P. to this courageous colt.
nick More than 1 year ago
Yes, DRF, why oh why would you load this replay? RIP Mr. Producer. I never saw to race, but I tip my hat to you in your honor and your memory. Best wishes, Mr. Velazquez.
Kate Corcoran More than 1 year ago
I was also shocked that DRF linked the video. We don't need to relive the horror of what happened to update the status of a beloved jockey. I haven't seen the race and don't want or need to. Prayers for Johnny V and his family, condolences to Graham Motion & his staff, and to the horse's owners. This is a tragedy.
Janice Palmer More than 1 year ago
Hoping for a speedy recovery for Johnny V with no complications arising. You are a great fit for Rags, but no sense in you coming back to ride him until you're ready, Johnny! Take care and enjoy your next few weeks with your family.
Mark More than 1 year ago
Did I stumble in to anger management class?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sincerely apologize if I offended anyone. Truth is, I had a bad day. I'll try acting more mature and hold my tongue. Anyone out there got a winner for me? My dog pissed on the floor, my gf ran off with my best freind, I bet on a horse named Bubble Gum and he got stuck on the rail and I'm so broke I can't even pay attention. Again I apolgize. Please accept my apologies everyone.
raymond More than 1 year ago
The truth hurts. I did'nt know I had to be politically correct to post here.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Never taught about respect and courtesy eh? There's a lesson out there for you punk.
raymond More than 1 year ago
EZ, Boy, respect? Respect America. That should come first and foremost.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Respect America, how? As a white Aryan nation in your eyes? Seriously, why are you here, outside of race-baiting every single article?
. More than 1 year ago
Jesus, can we post about horses. Raymond,your no use to this world
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
I got my Honorable Discharge in 1970... Me and you are done.
John Stevelberg More than 1 year ago
Best wishes for a speedy and complete recovery.
denali1 More than 1 year ago
Best and of luck Johnny V...I wish you a speedy recovery and condolences to the connections of Mr.Producer. JV your a lucky man to be alive... thank god and spend some quality time with your family.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
With Johnny out for awhile, Joe Bravo looks like a logical choice... But if Joe is commited, mannnnn would I love to see Jockey Willie Martinez on Rags!!!
Joe Greble More than 1 year ago
Who cares about that rat..... Will never win another grade one race in his life. Take him and 96 beyer speed figure and shove them up your ...!
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Love to and his Belmont win too.
Joe Greble More than 1 year ago
The Belmont is a joke anymore. You can put Rags right next to Ruler on Ice, Da 'Tara and Sarava. All slow, terrible winners of the Belmont in the last 10 years. 5/2? Wow what a baragin that was, you ROI on that horse is still in the negative!! Joke
. More than 1 year ago
Joe, your life is a joke. What a waste of red blood cells
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
So you cashed on Union Rags, right? So what are you whining about ?
Janice Palmer More than 1 year ago
How many horses with Rags two year old accomplishments and promise have won the Belmont??? That in and of itself is special! The horses above that you have named were not two year-old stars. UR's time would appear to me to be nothing more than a product of a tepid pace and a stretch run where he was impeded by Paynter hugging the rail, leaving him with no where to accelerate until the hole opened up very late. Give Rags an outside post, an honest pace, and a FULL stretch run to accelerate, and I think you'll see his speed figures climb.
Joe Greble More than 1 year ago
Janice, how many excuses can we make for this horse? He was a very good 2 year old. Very fast. BUT even then he couldn't win the big race. He could never pass Hansen even though Hansen was the only horse to go wire to wire ion the dead rail BC day. His 3 year old campaign has been marred by slow races and excuses. The reason I vent is because soooo many people are in love with this horse and light up theses chats with excuses for him. Good horse nothing special, those are the facts
Joe Tartaglia More than 1 year ago
Chad - Joe Bravo, seriously? i'm disappointed in you. Javier C. gets the mount back on Rags - he's not going to be on any other 3YO, so he's the most logical choice.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Hi Joe... Bravo is a smart, steady journeyman and is already 'in' the barn on Teeth of The Dog. Don't know who he'll ride but his last rider change aged me. I'd ride Willie anytime.
Cookie Smith More than 1 year ago
rosario was considered for rags and got plenty of run from teeth of the dog on belmont day... i think he's coming east a little earlier than normal to ride rags and some of other matz runners..
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
See my note below to Joe T and Paul... You ladies don't miss much!
paul cervenan More than 1 year ago
It will be Joel Rosario if Matz is smart. Michael Matz has had a problem in the past fitting riders for his horses. Although Jersey Joe is better than the leper, Joel is a better fit on Rags.(Johnny V fit Rags perfectly, without a doubt)
Janice Palmer More than 1 year ago
Joe G., who needs excuses, UR won! I'm simply pointing out a logical reason for his speed figure. Stalkers are always at the mercy of the pace scenarios and trips. If UR gets the kind of trip and pace scenario I painted above and still comes out with a less than triple digit beyer ( now that he is a 3 year old ), I will be inclined to agree you. Until then, I will believe that there is more to this horse -- he looks like it, trains like it and may very well still be growing into that big body of his. Let's also cut all of them a break in that the Belmont is probably none of their favorite distances to run. ;-)
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Paul and to Joe, Sorry guys that I did not even see that Bravo was not back on Teeth for the Easy Goer... NBC screwed us all with their NO race-day show and living in Carolina, I cannot sign with DRF BETS nor can I even get a copy of the Form. It an't easy being me!!!
Ronnie Malo Rodriguez More than 1 year ago
Speedy recovery for Johnny V. I was at the Belmont, and Rags won fair and square over a slow pace but a fast opening quarter 23 and 3 for a mile and half race. Union Rags looked good but Paynter looked great like a fit horse that is going to get better going into the second half of the season. I tried to save my triple by putting dullahan on top, and forgot Rags loves the Belmont racetrack. The race was great, but I'm still not convinced that Rags has much more upside to him. When the Pace is hotter I believe this horse will not fire. But time will tell can't wait for the Jim Dandy and Travers