Jockey Injured After Colt Wins Forerunner

Two-time Eclipse Award-winning jockey John Velazquez remained hospitalized Thursday evening (April 20) following a nasty spill in Keeneland's feature race, the Forerunner Stakes. The incident occurred when Velazquez's mount, Up an Octave, broke down and fell less than a sixteenth of a mile after winning the $110,600 turf event for 3-year-olds.

At the hospital, Velazquez was "conscious and talking well," according to his agent, Angel Cordero Jr. While Cordero said physicians were concerned over a possible broken shoulder, they were running a series of tests and waiting for a specialist to review the X rays.

"He's in good condition, he's stable, facing nothing really dangerous," Cordero said. "We won't know anything else until tomorrow when the doctors look at everything."

Up an Octave was galloping out after the finish of the 1 3/16 mile race when he suffered a compound fracture and fell, flipping over on top of Velazquez, who was thrown forward. The 34-year-old jockey was transported to the track's first aid center via stretcher. After an initial examination by track physician Dr. Barry Schumer, he was taken to the University of Kentucky Hospital for further testing.

Up an Octave, who had three wins in seven career starts for Vinery Stables and trainer Todd Pletcher, was euthanatized.

A native Puerto Rican, Velazquez is currently tied with newcomer Julien Leparoux as the leading jockey for Keeneland's Spring 2006 meet. He is also the current president of the Jockey's Guild. Velazquez won the Eclipse Award as the nation's top jockey in 2004 and 2005 when he also led U.S. riders in purse earnings.

Up an Octave won the 1 1/8-mile turf event for 3-year-olds. Time for the distance was 1:49.78 on firm turf. Yate's Black Cat finished second, a neck in front of third-place Tahoe Warrior. It was a neck back to Wise River in the eight-horse field.

About the Author

Claire Novak

Winner of the 2011 Eclipse Award for Feature/Commentary and the 2008 Louisville Metro Journalism Award for Sports Writing, Claire Novak has melded her love for human-interest journalism and the equine breed into a successful Turf writing career. Since her first freelance article on racing was published at in 2005, her byline has appeared in the New York Times, ESPN The Magazine, and on, among others. She lives near Lexington and, when not writing about racing, can often be found jumping her Thoroughbred, Bob.

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