04/08/2013 6:43PM

Velazquez expects to make Derby after missing three weeks

Barbara D. Livingston
Jockey John Velazquez aboard Verrazano. Velazquez expects to resume riding in three weeks after suffering a non-displaced fractured rib in a spill Sunday at Aqueduct.

 Jockey John Velazquez, who suffered a fractured rib in a spill Sunday at Aqueduct, will not ride for the next three weeks, but he plans to return in time to ride the Kentucky Derby on May 4 at Churchill Downs.

 In a text sent early Monday evening, Leona Velazquez, John’s wife, wrote that the “fracture is non-displaced so it will heal by itself in three weeks. He will start riding Derby week.”

 Which horse Velazquez will ride in the Kentucky Derby remains an unanswered question. Velazquez has ridden Verrazano to four victories in four starts - including Saturday’s $1 million Wood Memorial at Aqueduct - and he has won two stakes including the Florida Derby on Orb. Verrazano is trained by Todd Pletcher while Orb is trained by Shug McGaughey, both of whom have been instrumental in Velazquez’s Hall of Fame career.

  Velazquez, 41, suffered a fractured rib on his right side and chipped a piece of bone in his right wrist when his mount, Katie Malone, clipped heels with another horse during the running of Aqueduct’s seventh race on Sunday.

 Velazquez was hospitalized for several hours Sunday, before being released that night. On Monday, he met with his orthopedist Dr. Stephen O’Brien.

 Velazquez won the 2011 Kentucky Derby aboard Animal Kingdom, a mount he picked up after Robby Albarado was injured in a paddock accident the week of the Derby. Velazquez’s scheduled mount for that Derby, Uncle Mo, was scratched after being entered due to illness.