Injured Jockey Bravo Plans September Return

By Jon White
Joe Bravo, who is still atop the Monmouth Park jockey standings despite not having ridden for more than a month, hopes to resume riding in early September. Bravo has been sidelined since suffering various injuries in a spill at Monmouth Park on July 21.

"I came out of it with a broke collarbone and some broken ribs," Bravo said during an HRTV interview Thursday. "The doctor was going to let me ride this weekend, but the thing that's holding me back now, it turns out I have two cracked vertebra. That's nothing to mess with. Anytime you're talking about the spine, you don't want to take any chances. So I'm going to take an extra couple of weeks and make sure I'm 100%."

Since the 21 spill, Bravo has been able to mix in some fun along with the hard work of physical therapy.

"I hate the gym, and I'm in the gym a lot," he said. "It's really just a lot of physical therapy that you go though. It's so much easier to stay fit while you're riding races, because riding racehorses keeps you very, very athletically fit. It's so much easier to stay in shape while you're riding horses instead of doing it on a treadmill, a bicycle machine and hitting the all the weight machines that I do.

"But I've also tried to enjoy myself during this time that I can't ride. I don't take vacations very often. So I took a week off and went out to Del Mar. It was some of the greatest racing. It was just beautiful. I spent three days at the races and the rest of the time at a beach house. I woke up and watched the dolphins and the surfers. It was a great week.

"I spent two days back home in Jersey after that, and then I went to Saratoga for three days. There again, I enjoyed some of the best racing in the country. I spent time watching some horses train that I had been riding. I spent time with some of the best horsemen in the game, like Patrick Biancone and Christophe Clement. I'm leaving tomorrow to go to Miami for the MTV music awards. I'll spend some time there, then I'll look to come back to work."

Bravo has won a record 10 Monmouth Park riding titles. He is eager to resume riding in order to try and win another Monmouth Park title this year. Through Aug. 24, Bravo was the leading rider at the current meeingt with 76 victories, four more than Stewart Elliott. The 2005 Monmouth Park meet is scheduled to end on Sept. 25.

"I'm very surprised [that I'm still the leader in the standings]," Bravo said. "But it's something that's out of my hands. I'm on the sidelines and try not to look at that. I wish all these riders a lot of luck while I'm out. My hands are tied right now. When my hands get untied, then I can try to win as many races as I can.

"I talked to my doctor this morning, and I'll see him on Sept. 2. I'd really love to be back for the Pennsylvania Derby (gr. II) that is run on Sept. 5 [at Philadelphia Park]."

Bravo said he does not plan to ride races right away after he gets the green light from his doctor.

"I will take something like two, three, four days to get on horses in the morning, just to make sure to get my timing and everything down," the 33-year-old rider said. "I feel great physically. I feel strong right now. I feel like I've never left the races. I feel like I could ride tomorrow. But, like I said, I'm not going to take any chances of messing with the spine. So I'm shooting for Sept. 5."