Jockey Joe Bravo, who has 23 riding titles to his credit in his native New Jersey, expects to return to the saddle by May 1 after recovering from two fractured vertebrae he sustained on the Jan. 4 opening day card at Gulfstream Park."It's been a long road back," said Bravo, 34, who has captured a record 11 riding championships at Monmouth Park, a record nine at the Meadowlands, two at Garden State Park and one at Atlantic City Racecourse. "It's not been as bad as some other injuries, but with every injury it just takes time to get back. The doctors have cleared me to get back on horses in mid-April. I start physical therapy on April 1 and two weeks later I'll be back exercising in the morning. After a couple of weeks I'll be ready to ride races again. The doctors said May 1 to ride, so that's the date. I'll start back in New York. A lot of those guys will be in Kentucky for Derby week, so that should work out well, and two weeks later I'll be ready for Monmouth."Over the past five years, Bravo has been plagued by a number of injuries. In 2001 he broke his left leg and the following year his left wrist, both at Monmouth. In 2003, he fractured his T-6 vertebrae on opening night of the Meadowlands meet. Last season Bravo missed six weeks of the Monmouth meet with a broken collarbone suffered on July 21, but returned to take his 11th title.
"I just hope all these injuries are behind me," Bravo said. "For more than 10 years I had nothing, not a scratch. The past five years it's been one thing after the next. Hopefully that's all over."Agent Joe Rosen will have Bravo's book when he returns to the saddle.