03/09/2012 4:03PM

Los Alamitos: Jensen heals quick, starts season strong

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Jockey Cody Jensen was sidelined at this time last year with a broken pelvis and an ambitious goal.

A doctor told the then 35-year-old rider to expect 12 months on the sidelines after he was injured in a riding accident at Los Alamitos in January 2011. In his own mind, Jensen halved that timeframe – and set out to meet the deadline.

“My surgeon did not think we’d make that goal,” Jensen said Thursday. “He kept saying a year, and I kept saying six months. I put it in my mind set that I wanted to achieve something that most people didn’t think I was able to.”

Jensen met his target. He returned to riding at Ruidoso Downs in mid-July. By the end of 2011, he won the Los Alamitos Championship on Jess You and I and the Challenge Juvenile Championship on Shez Jess Toxic.

This year, Jensen is off to a strong start. Through Thursday, he ranked 17th in the nation in earnings with $192,343. His biggest win of the year was aboard Kobe in the Los Alamitos Winter Derby.

In coming weeks, Jensen will be all over the western United States. He is riding primarily at Remington Park in Oklahoma City through the end of May, but will be at Sunland Park in New Mexico and Los Alamitos frequently for major stakes and trial races. Next Sunday, he rides Kobe in the El Primero Del Ano Derby trials at Los Alamitos. The final for that race is April 8.

“It keeps the grass from growing under your feet,” he said of the travels.

Kobe is trained by national leader Paul Jones, with whom Jensen is closely allied. Jones has divisions at Ruidoso Downs and Los Alamitos this year, the tracks where Jensen will focus this summer.

“I’m trying to get my business cranked back up,” he said. “This winter has started up good. Things are looking up.”

Jensen admits that his career is reaching its final stages. He has won some of the sport’s biggest races such as the All American Futurity at Ruidoso Downs in 2005 and 2006. He realizes that at his age the current comeback is one to enjoy.

“I’ve gotten into those years when retirement is not far down the road,” he said. “You say, ‘Do I really want to comeback. I don’t really need to ride racehorses anymore.’

“I’m having too much damn fun riding horses.”