Jockey John Velazquez took off his scheduled mounts at Belmont Park Thursday, citing the ankle pain that has been bothering him for several days. The 34-year-old Velazquez was involved in a minor accident in the starting gate Sept. 14, and was thrown from a 2-year-old behind the gate a week later. He has been on and off his mounts for the past week, declining to ride Sept. 22 and taking off Sept. 24 after riding on the 23rd. He had no scheduled mounts on Wednesday, Sept. 27, but was named to five starters Thursday before he took off to undergo an MRI at a local clinic."He got pinched in the gate and his ankle was bothering him," said the jockey's agent, Angel Cordero Jr. "Hopefully he'll ride tomorrow and he's scheduled to ride in Chicago [in the Hawthorne Gold Cup] on Saturday."According to sources at Belmont Park, Velazquez is suffering from fluid build-up around his left tendon, an injury that causes pain when he walks but does not affect his riding ability. X-rays of the jockey's left ankle returned negative and there is no visible swelling around the injury. Specialists hope to offer Velazquez options of relief after pinpointing the exact location Thursday afternoon, sources said.Velazquez, a two-time Eclipse Award-winner, was sidelined for over a month earlier this year with multiple injuries incurred in a spill at Keeneland Race Course April 20.
Members of the New York Racing Association’s gate crew will meet Thursday with jockeys at Saratoga Race Course to discuss issues caused by miscommunication before the start of recent races at the New York oval.