Victor Espinoza, who suffered a fractured vertebra in a training mishap at Del Mar July 22, continues a lengthy and arduous recovery and hopes to resume riding when Santa Anita's Winter Meet starts on Dec. 26.
“He saw the doctors this week and they're happy with his progress,” agent Brian Beach said Friday morning. “They say he's further along than most people would be who experienced such injuries, but he's not quite there yet, so Victor's going to target the Big Meet at Santa Anita for his return.
“He's not going to be able to make it back for the Breeders' Cup or anything in between. There's no sense in rushing now. He's seeing a neurologist and a neurosurgeon (at Scripps La Jolla Hospital). They're both happy with his progress but still exercising caution.
“It's only been a month since he's had the (neck) brace off. They're redoing X-rays and MRI's to make sure they're satisfied with what they see. Victor is still in San Diego close to the doctors he's been seeing through this entire process.
“He's doing rehab and quite a bit of things on his own, although he's restricted to some degree when it comes to weights and things like that, but he is doing more than what he had done before.”
Espinoza, a recent inductee into the Hall of Fame who rode American Pharoah to a Triple Crown sweep in 2015 and was the regular pilot of two-time Horse of the Year California Chrome, is the 46-year-old uncle of 18-year-old apprentice sensation Assael Espinoza, also represented by Beach.
“Victor will listen to the doctors and heed their advice,” Beach continued. “Right now they say it's too early to give him a thumbs up on riding, because both they and he want to make sure he's 100 percent when he comes back, but the target date is Dec. 26.”
That would make for a Merry Christmas for sure.
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