05/28/2006 11:00PM

Velazquez to return at Monmouth


It is already understood that John Velazquez is a talented rider. Now he can be described to be a fast healer as well.

Velazquez, who suffered a fractured shoulder blade and a cracked rib in a spill at Keeneland on April 20, will return to the saddle on Friday when he rides the unraced 2-year-old Scat Daddy at Monmouth Park for trainer Todd Pletcher. It is Velazquez's only mount on the card. Pletcher had entered Scat Daddy in a similar spot on the same day at Belmont Park, but the race did not fill with enough entries to be carded.

Velazquez's return is much sooner than anticipated. Originally, Velazquez was pointing to a mid-July return.

"He feels good, he's been on horses all week," said Angel Cordero Jr., Velazquez's agent. "It's a decision he made."

Cordero said that Velazquez would ride one or two horses a day leading up to the Belmont Stakes card on June 10. Velazquez, who will ride Wait a While in Saturday's Sands Point at Belmont, will ride Bluegrass Cat in the Belmont Stakes and perhaps three or four other horses on that card.

Velazquez, 34, is the two-time defending Eclipse Award-winning jockey.