03/20/2012 3:20PM

Gulfstream: Return date uncertain for Lopez

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Corey Moran, jockey agent for Paco Lopez, reports there is no definite timetable for his rider’s return. Lopez suffered a broken collarbone and six broken ribs in a nasty spill that took place in early stretch of Saturday’s finale. Lopez remained hospitalized Tuesday morning but was expected to be released within 48 hours.

“The prognosis is for him to be out four to six weeks, but he’s a strong kid, and if you remember he healed up and was able to return a lot quicker than the doctors first thought from the elbow fracture he suffered in the spill here last winter,” said Moran.

Lopez missed a month after being injured in the same incident that left fellow rider Eibar Coa temporarily paralyzed last February, although he was still able to come back and win the 2011 riding title.

“Right now we have no timetable for his return, we’ll just sit and wait and see what happens,” said Moran. “Our plans were to try to go to Keeneland and then Churchill Downs after this meet, and we’re still thinking about heading to Kentucky once Paco is ready to return.”

Lopez is also the regular rider for Force Freeze, runner-up in the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Sprint and winner of the Mr. Prospector here earlier in the meet. Trained by Peter Walder, he is not scheduled to make his next start until the Churchill Downs Handicap on Kentucky Derby day.

“Right now Peter Walder) said he is not giving the mount to anybody,” said Moran. “He will wait and see if there is a chance Paco might be able to be back by then.”

Moran also reports that he will be taking over the engagements of Coa’s son Keiber, who recently registered his first career riding victory at Santa Anita.

“I’ve already started lining up mounts for Keiber here at Gulfstream,” said Moran. “The plan is to try to get him rolling here and then over at Calder, and when Paco comes back to take the two of them up to Churchill Downs for the summer.”

Joe Ferrer, who has been handling Coa’s book in California, said, “Keibar has made tremendous strides here over the last five weeks, and given the opportunity to ride more mounts back East, should become a top-flight rider.”