Jockey Espinoza could be 'good to go' for early 2019 return

December 02, 2018 11:11am

Jockey Victor Espinoza visited Del Mar Saturday, and the Hall of Famer told TVG’s Britney Eurton he was eyeing a return to racing in early 2019. Espinoza has been out of the saddle since he fractured a vertebra in his neck July 22 during a morning workout at the seaside oval.

“My body’s getting stronger day by day. Last week I was with my doctor and they checked the MRI and the MRI came out perfect,” he told TVG. “I was kind of surprised in the way that I was like, ‘This soon?’ But I was really happy. It really made my day to know that everything is coming along great and I don’t need surgery, which is good. My spinal cord is healed perfectly fine.

“...I just do my thing every day. Work out as much as I can. I just need to get stronger and I think by mid-January I should be good to go.”

Espinoza, 46, has not kept his wish to ride again a secret during his recovery. In recent years, he’s been the regular jockey aboard Triple Crown winner American Pharoah and two-time Horse of the Year California Chrome. He also piloted Accelerate before his fall in July.

Joel Rosario took over the reins on Accelerate and guided the horse to Grade 1 victories in the Pacific Classic, Awesome Again and Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Espinoza doesn’t have an exact date in mind yet, but he is focused on getting ready to ride again.

“I think if everything goes well by January,” he said, “either the middle of January or the end of January.”


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