Bravo Fractures Vertebra in Meadowlands Spill

Jockey Joe Bravo broke a vertebra in his mid-back as a result of a riding spill in the ninth race on Thursday night at the Meadowlands.

Bravo, New Jersey's leading rider most of the last decade, was admitted to Hackensack (N.J.) University Medical Center where he is undergoing further testing and treatment.

Bravo, eight-time leading rider at the Meadowlands and nine-time top jockey at Monmouth Park, was aboard Tactical de Naskra on the turn for home on the Meadowlands turf course when his mount stumbled, apparently clipping heels. It happened in the next-to-last race of the opening program for the 28-date fall meeting.

"Joe has no idea what happened," said Bravo's agent, Danny Mellul, on Friday morning. "He cracked the T6 (thoracic) vertebra which is the middle of the back. We're waiting for him to get an MRI."

It has been a difficult few years for Bravo who turned 33 on Sept. 10. The Long Branch, N.J. native broke his leg on July 27, 2001, and he did not return to action until March of 2002. Eight days into the Monmouth Park meet in 2002 (May 30), he had another spill, breaking his wrist.

"It seems like he's been picked on the last two and a half years, but these are the hazards of the game," said Mellul. "He has to persevere."

"Jersey" Joe Bravo captured his ninth Monmouth Park riding title Sept. 28, with 110 victories and nearly $3.4 million in earnings.