Rafael Bejarano

Rafael Bejarano

Benoit Photo

Comebacking Bejarano Works Two at Del Mar

Leading rider on Southern California circuit was injured in spill at Del Mar July 22.

(from Del Mar track notes)

Jockey Rafael Bejarano, preparing to return to action soon after being injured in a spill on opening day at Del Mar, showed up a day early on the morning of Aug. 22, to work two horses.

"I feel good and it was good to be back up on horses," the native of Peru said as he strolled the Del Mar backstretch with his agent, Joe Ferrer. He had been expected to work his first horses Aug. 23.

Bejarano, a perennial leading rider on the Southern California circuit, won last year’s jockey title at Del Mar and finished second to Joel Rosario in the 2009 Hollywood Park spring/summer standings. He said he expects to ride his first races Aug. 28.

Bejarano suffered fractures of the jaw, nose and orbital bones in a frightening mid-stretch spill in the third race on Del Mar's opening day program July 22. He underwent lengthy surgery at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla and remained hospitalized for a few days.

Bejarano has been fitted with a protective mask, similar to those worn by other professional athletes, but won't wear it during morning workouts, he said. "I will wear it in the afternoon because there's more danger of being hit by stuff while you're riding in a race."