Bejarano Plans Comeback Next Week

Jockey Rafael Bejarano, sidelined since Aug. 25 with rib injuries incurred at Saratoga Race Course, will return to riding at Turfway Park in Florence, Ky. on Wednesday or Thursday, in time for the Sept. 30 Kentucky Cup series.

According to the jockey's agent, Joe Ferrer, 23-year-old Bejarano has been out of the country for several days and has not been galloping horses, but will return to Louisville Sunday and is expected to be riding regularly by the end of the week. Local agent Julio Espinosa will assist Ferrer with booking Bejarano's mounts until Ferrer, still in New York, returns to Kentucky later this month.

"Rafael is doing very well," Espinosa said Thursday morning. "He's working out and he's real fit. He went to Panama, then to Peru to visit his mother, and he could have come back earlier, but he wanted extra time to see his family. When you're young, you can do things like that without a problem."

Bejarano, ninth in the North American jockey standings with $8.8 million in purse earnings this year, was injured Aug. 14 when his mount in the ninth race at Saratoga fell and unseated the rider. He underwent a complete set of chest and rib x-rays at Saratoga Hospital, but a hairline fracture and a crack in two separate ribs remained undetected and he continued to ride 29 mounts over the next nine racing days. Bejarano finally stopped riding Aug. 25 and drove home to Kentucky, where a specialist determined the cause of his pain and trouble breathing. He was eighth in the standings at Saratoga with 18 wins when he left New York.

"He's good now, he'll ride a few races and get ready for Keeneland," said Espinosa.