04/20/2006 11:00PM

Velazquez breaks shoulder


Two-time Eclipse Award-winning jockey John Velazquez suffered a fractured scapula in a frightening spill Thursday at Keeneland and will probably have to miss the Kentucky Derby and perhaps the entire Triple Crown series, the jockey's agent, Angel Cordero Jr., said Friday morning at Churchill Downs.

Velazquez was released from the University of Kentucky Medical Center on Friday morning. Cordero said the fracture of the scapula, the large bone just below and behind the shoulder, was the only major injury that Velazquez incurred in the spill.

"He's pretty sore everywhere, but he's very lucky," said Cordero, a retired Hall of Fame jockey. "That is one of the ugliest spills I've ever seen."

Cordero said he did not know how much time Velazquez would miss from riding. Cordero said the jockey could be released from the hospital as early as Friday.

Velazquez was to ride one of three hopefuls - Sunriver, Keyed Entry, or, most likely, Bluegrass Cat - that Pletcher has for the May 6 Derby.

Velazquez was injured when his mount, Up an Octave, broke down about 100 yards past the finish in the Forerunner Stakes. Up an Octave, a 3-year-old colt owned by Vinery Stable and trained by Todd Pletcher, had just won the 1 1/8-mile turf race as the favorite. The colt suffered a catastrophic injury to his left foreleg and had to be euthanized on the turf course. No other horses or jockeys were involved.

James Scatuorchio, a major client of Pletcher's, has arranged for Velazquez to be flown back to his home in New York on Scatuorchio's private jet as soon as possible.