Jockey Espinoza back in saddle after injury

AFP
Jockey Victor Espinoza, seen here prior to the 2018 Kentucky Derby, has exercised his first mount since suffering serious injuries in a training accident in July (AFP Photo/ANDY LYONS)

Jockey Victor Espinoza, seen here prior to the 2018 Kentucky Derby, has exercised his first mount since suffering serious injuries in a training accident in July

Jockey Victor Espinoza, seen here prior to the 2018 Kentucky Derby, has exercised his first mount since suffering serious injuries in a training accident in July (AFP Photo/ANDY LYONS)

Los Angeles (AFP) - Triple Crown-winning jockey Victor Espinoza was back in the saddle Saturday, five months after he was seriously injured when his mount died under him in a training run.

Espinoza, 46, suffered fractured vertebrae and other serious injuries in the July 22 accident at Del Mar racetrack.

He had spent the last five months rehabilitating in the San Diego area and on Saturday was aboard former stakes winner St. Joe Bay for trainer John Sadler for a five-furlong work at Santa Anita.

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"I feel good," said Espinoza, whose injuries included a fracture of the C-3 vertebra in his neck, which left him with shoulder pain and numbness.

"Basically, my fitness is returning, but it's only one horse. It was kind of John to let me work him. It's like riding a bicycle. It takes a little practice, but I didn't expect to come back at 100 percent after one work."

The Mexico-born jockey admitted that early in his rehabilitation he doubted he would want to ride again after the horse, Kona Gold, died of cardiac arrest as they completed a training outing.

Now, however, he believes he'll come back "100 percent" although he still has no timetable for a return to racing.

"I'll come back again, work more horses and hopefully start riding soon," said Espinoza, who piloted American Pharoah to victory in US racing's Triple Crown -- the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes -- in 2015.

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