06/18/2012 2:42PM

Churchill Downs: Velazquez cleared for release from hospital

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Emily Shields
John Velazquez was injured Saturday night at Churchill Downs.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Jockey John Velazquez was cleared for release Monday from Audubon Hospital here after spending two nights there with a broken right collarbone and possible other injuries he suffered in a terrifying spill that occurred at the sixteenth pole during the ninth race Saturday night at Churchill Downs.

Velazquez was scheduled for release at about noon Eastern and was to board a flight shortly thereafter to New York when accompanied by his wife, Leona, according to his longtime agent, Angel Cordero Jr. Cordero added that Velazquez will see his own doctors in New York as soon as possible this week to determine whether to have surgery on the collarbone.

Cordero said he did not know the extent of the collarbone injury, although typically such an injury typically requires four to six weeks before a jockey can return to action, barring other complications. Cordero said he was informed Sunday that Velazquez urinated blood that 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 a race that directly followed the running of the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap. 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 and transported by ambulance to nearby Audubon.

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 returned 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, was euthanized because of 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 Foster, which was won by Ron the Greek.

This is the second time Velazquez has suffered 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 he was 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.