Espinoza to seek third opinion, return to riding put on hold

Hall of Fame jockey Victor Espinoza, who worked his first horse last weekend since suffering a spine injury last July in a morning training incident, will seek a third doctor's opinion before continuing in his return.

“He’s gotten drastically different opinions from two different doctors,” said Espinoza's agent, Brian Beach, “so rather than choosing the one we want, we’ll seek another opinion and hopefully get that done this week and go from there.


“But for right now, he won’t work any horses tomorrow, which could be a moot point since the weather might not allow works anyway if it rains tonight. We’re in a bit of holding pattern, but there was no race or horse we had been targeting.


Espinoza fractured his C-3 vertebra July 22 at Del Mar when his mount, Bobby Abu Dhabi, broke down in the stretch of a workout. The 46-year-old also said he experience temporarily paralysis and lingering numbness in his limbs.

Espinoza has continued therapy since surgery and said last weekend that, "I’m just lucky enough to come back — to basically be normal again." To ensure he stays that way, his team is taking a cautious approach after Espinoza had originally hoped to be riding in races by the end of this month.

“There was a disagreement among doctors as to whether he could ride in races or just exercise horses, two different interpretations of a scan that was taken. You can’t ignore the opinion you don’t want to believe and go with the opinion you want to believe.

“You’ve got to do the right thing and get an independent, third evaluation, and go from there, but Victor feels great. He’s back doing more work with his physical therapist at Del Mar and he came out of his breeze last Saturday in good shape.

“He has no pain and he’s fitter than he thought he was, all positive signs.


“We just have to make sure he’s doing the right thing at the right time.”


Espinoza gained immense fame recently as the regular rider aboard dual classic winner California Chrome and Triple Crown champion American Pharoah. At the time of his injury, he also held the mount on Accelerate, the Horse of the Year finalist who hasn’t lost since.

St. Joe Bay, Espinoza’s work horse last Saturday, is a 7-year-old gelding trained by John Sadler who has won six of 34 starts, including back to back graded stakes in the 2016 Midnight Lute (G3) and 2017 Palos Verdes (G2) at Santa Anita.

 

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