01/20/2017 11:46AM

Valdivia hoping for February return to riding

Churchill Downs/Coady Photography
Jockey Jose Valdivia Jr. plans to begin exercising horses Tuesday as he recovers from a leg injury.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Jockey Jose Valdivia Jr. was on hand Friday morning at Gulfstream as he continues to recover from a leg injury suffered in a Nov. 10 spill at Churchill Downs.

“Everything is coming along real well,” said Valdivia, who lives with his wife, Renee, and two children in nearby Hollywood.

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Valdivia said a permanent rod and four screws were surgically inserted into his lower left leg and that he has experienced minimal post-op difficulty while swimming and bicycling to maintain his fitness and speed up his recovery. He plans to ease back into race-riding by exercising horses at Gulfstream starting Tuesday before leaving for Fair Grounds in New Orleans to reunite with agent Steve Leving.

“We’re hoping to be back in action by the first week of February,” he said.

Valdivia, a 42-year-old native of Peru, began his riding career in the U.S. in 1994. He has won 1,485 races, with his mounts earning nearly $66.7 million. He rode for years on the Southern California circuit before moving several years ago to compete mostly at Fair Grounds and Arlington Park, the suburban Chicago track where he was easily the leading jockey last summer with 100 wins.