12/07/2015 11:58AM

Prat could return to races as soon as Santa Anita opener

Barbara D. Livingston
Jockey Flavien Prat, who was injured in a spill in September, works a horse on Saturday at Santa Anita.

Jockey Flavien Prat, who has not ridden since September after suffering a back injury in a spill at Los Alamitos, resumed working horses at Santa Anita over the weekend and could ride on the Dec. 26 opening day of that track’s winter-spring meeting.

Prat said he worked horses on Saturday and Sunday and plans to intensify his workload in coming weeks.

“I breezed one this morning,” Prat said on Sunday. “I don’t want to go too fast. I feel good. I can ride.”

Prat’s recovery is ahead of schedule. When the injury was diagnosed in September, he was not expected to resume riding until early next year. He said he is reluctant to fully commit to riding on Dec. 26.

“If I’m ready, it’s great,” Prat said. “I didn’t expect that. I think I’ll be ready. What I don’t want to say is that I’ll be riding, and then I feel tired. I want to go step by step.”

Prat said he is undergoing physical therapy “almost every day” and has not experienced discomfort.

“The more I ride, the more I feel good,” he said. “I’m very surprised at my body.”

Prat, 23, fractured five vertebrae in a spill on Sept. 17. This year has been his first full season of riding in this country. Previously, Prat rode in California in the winter and returned to his native France to ride the bulk of that nation’s turf flat season.

This year, Prat has won 83 races, and his mounts have earned $5,177,995. He won the Grade 1 Bing Crosby Stakes on Wild Dude at Del Mar in July, and the Grade 3 Precisionist Stakes with Catch a Flight at Santa Anita in May.