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Jockey Velazquez returns from injury: “It’s great to be here.”

When John Velazquez rode the three-year-old Monopolize onto the track for the fourth race at Gulfstream Park, he was greeted by resounding cheers.

The shouts of well wishes rang out in honor of the Hall of Fame jockey’s first race in almost three months while recovering from injuries he sustained in a spill back in November. In the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) at Santa Anita Park, Velazquez’s mount Secret Compass tragically broke down. The filly was euthanized, while Velazquez underwent emergency surgery to remove his spleen and was hospitalized for several days.

A long recovery process followed, and doctors didn’t clear the 42-year-old to ride again until January 10th. The following day he began exercise riding, and he used the time to regain his strength and rhythm in the saddle.

But it’s hard to simulate anything like an actual race. Following a fifth place finish with Monopolize, Velazquez had but one adjective to describe how it felt to be racing again.

“Tiring,” he said, laughing. “Other than that, it felt good, felt really good. I’m just looking for a horse now fast enough to carry me around.”

Read more at Paulick Report



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