10/04/2008 12:00AM

Velazquez released from hospital


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Jockey John Velazquez was released Saturday afternoon from the University of Kentucky Medical Center, some 24 hours after suffering a severe concussion in a spill during the stretch run of the seventh race on the opening-day card at Keeneland in Lexington, Ky.

Velazquez, 37, will not be able to ride until further notice, according to Kim Valerio, racing manager for the owner of the horse he fell from. Velazquez was taken off his Saturday mounts at Belmont Park and his Sunday mounts at Keeneland.

"It was a pretty serious concussion, although fortunately he didn't hurt anything else," said Valerio, manager for Elisabeth Alexander. "All in all, he's doing really well, but obviously he's going to need a few days off. We're still awaiting word from the doctors as to what's next."

Velazquez was thrown hard to the Polytrack when his mount, Tap Dancing, owned by Alexander, was unable to avoid Whacka Whacka, who had fallen in front of him when clipping heels with Rapid Mon. Whacka Whacka was ridden by Jamie Theriot, who was up and walking without serious injury soon after being thrown to the Polytrack. No horses were seriously hurt.

Velazquez, a two-time Eclipse Award-winning jockey, has ridden more than 4,000 winners for mount earnings of nearly $208 million since starting his North American riding career in 1990. Although Velazquez is based primarily in New York, one of the most serious previous injuries in his career also occurred at Keeneland when he suffered a broken shoulder blade and lesser injuries when galloping out aboard the victorious Up an Octave after the Forerunner Stakes at the 2006 spring meet.

Keeneland steward Rick Leigh said no penalties or suspensions would result from the Friday spill.