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Updated on 04/11/2013 9:13AM
Kentucky Derby: Velazquez, other jockeys have decisions to make
There are less than four weeks until the Kentucky Derby, do you know who’s riding your horse?
For the connections of many of the top contenders, the answer as of Monday afternoon was no.
On Sunday morning, Velazquez said he was hopeful the connections of both horses would give him ample time to make a decision. By Sunday evening, however, Velazquez’s status for either horse was put in doubt when he suffered a cracked rib on his upper right side and chipped a bone in his right wrist as the result of a spill at Aqueduct on Sunday afternoon.
On Monday, Velazquez met with his orthopedist, Dr. Stephen O'Brien, and Velazquez's wife, Leona, said later in a text message that that he planned to ride in the Derby and would start taking riding assignments on Derby week.
Velazquez will not be able to ride defending Horse of the Year Wise Dan in Friday’s Grade 1 Maker’s 46 Mile at Keeneland. He will also be unable to ride Overanalyze in Saturday’s Arkansas Derby and has already been replaced by Rafael Bejarano, according to Pletcher.
In the winner’s circle following the Wood, Pletcher expressed confidence that Velazquez would choose Verrazano.
“We’ve got a pretty long history and a lot of success together over the years, and I think it would be pretty hard to take off an undefeated horse,” Pletcher said.
Shug McGaughey, the trainer of Orb, said he was hopeful to get an answer sooner than later if Velazquez was going to ride his horse.
“I’m going to need to know something one way or the other,” McGaughey said Monday. “Even if this [injury] didn’t happen, I got to go ahead. I’m not putting any pressure on him in any way, but you would like to have some sort of time frame.”
Velazquez isn’t the only jockey with a tough decision to make.
Javier Castellano rode Revolutionary to victory in the Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds and the Withers at Aqueduct. However, on Saturday he rode Normandy Invasion to a late-running second in the Wood, and that colt’s gallop out was very strong, indicating he might relish the 1 1/4 miles of the Derby.
Chad Brown, trainer of Normandy Invasion, said he’s willing to give Castellano a few days to decide.
“We’d obviously be very happy to keep Javier on the horse if we can,” Brown said. “He gets along with him very well, and we have a lot of confidence when we have Javier on our horses. We’ll give them these next few days to decide what they’re doing. We’re okay with that.”
Matt Muzikar, agent for Castellano, said he was going to sit down with his rider this week to exchange ideas, but cited the mantra of all riders and agents: later is better.
“Horses are fragile, anything can happen, that’s why we want to procrastinate as long as possible,” Muzikar said. “We’ll see what happens.”
Should Velazquez choose to ride Verrazano, that could open the door for Joel Rosario to get back on Orb. Rosario was aboard Orb for his first five starts, including two victories, before winding up on Speak Logistics in the Fountain of Youth.
Other high-profile riders seeking Derby mounts include Mike Smith, Rosie Napravnik, Corey Nakatani, and Rafael Bejarano. Smith rides War Academy in Saturday’s Arkansas Derby.
One jockey who is definitely out of the picture is Ramon Dominguez, the three-time reigning Eclipse Award-winning rider who is still recovering from a traumatic brain injury suffered in a spill at Aqueduct on Jan. 18.
Dominguez was at Aqueduct on Saturday where he told reporters that he won’t meet with his doctors again until sometime in June.
– additional reporting by Jay Privman
hey one jockey I would like to ride in the derby is my favorite Mr. Eddie Castro . loves big races and knows how to win them so lets vote him in !!
I am messing up this old adage, but it's something like "Dance with the guy that brung ya'! That's how I feel about keeping a jock that has a connection and a winning record on a particular horse. Horses should have a vote who rides them in the Derby! Kevin Krigger from Ca. comes to mind..sure hope he keeps his mount for the Derby.
What horse is Chantal Sutherland going to ride?
Hasn't Calvin Borel paid enough of a price for his BC dust-up with Castellano? The man deserves a mount in the Derby, plain and simple; it's time for the powers-to-be to let go of their vendetta and allow him to ride in the greatest horse race in America.
Hi! I still believe that some "dirty playing" behind the scenes took place regarding the 2011 Kentucky Derby when Animal Kingdom rider, Robby Albarado, was taken off his mount and given to John Velasquez. Todd Pletcher was involved in the "dirty playing" behind the scenes, and I believe Dale Romans was too. I do not do well with "dirty playing." Fair playing is the name of my game and have no respect for those who "play dirty." It all looked so nice when John V. shared some of his earnings with Robby but that does not make up for the "dirty playing" in my opinion. I bet that John V. will ride one of Todd Pletcher's horses in the Derby afterall John V. got Animal Kingdom from this "dirty playing" behind the scenes, didn't he? Does loyalty count? You bet it does! Thank you! Lise from Maine
Hi! I am hoping that Ramon Dominguez will someday win the Kentucky Derby. Maybe next year. How about listing Edgar Prado as a possible contender for the Kentucky Derby since he has won several stakes races this year? Edgar now has a great agent in order to get him on some great horses. He should have gotten a great agent a long time ago as Edgar is a great jockey. Go Edgar! Lise from Maine
Irad Ortiz will win this year's Derby.
Horses are fragile, so are people! The trainers have to make decisions now to send their horses to Churchill Downs to prepare their horses for that particular track. It is too bad for Johnny Velazquez to have taken that spill Sunday. He got hurt and has a broken wrist and ribs. He is blessed that it was not worse. Ramon Dominguez was seriously injured with brain trauma. The owners are going to be real touchy about turning their Derby horses to jockeys that they think have serious injuries or are not 100%. The trainers might be a little more sympathetic, but then again, you never know. Good Luck to everyone involved!
Julien isn't a high profile rider seeking a Derby mount, Privman? One bad Derby ride and people write him off. He has won many dirt routes at CD, and would make a great fit for Normandy Invasion. Corey Lanerie should also be considered for a mount, he has owned CD the last few summers.
Has O'Neil committed to Krigger on Goldencents?