John Velazquez was back in the saddle Thursday at Belmont Park in New York, two days before he's scheduled to ride undefeated Verrazano in the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.
Velazquez had been sidelined because of rib and wrist injuries sustained April 7, one day after guiding Verrazano to a half-length victory in the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct.
He finished seventh with his one mount on comeback day.
"I feel very, very good," Velazquez, 41, said. "I wish my horse had run better, but I had no problem getting back into the swing of things."
Velazquez will ride Dreaming of Julia in the Kentucky Oaks today.
In Gomez he trusts Trainer Rudy Rodriguez placed his trust in jockey Garrett Gomez after Vyjack landed post No. 20, the far outside spot in the starting gate for the Derby.
Some trainers would map out elaborate schemes to compensate for the poor draw. Rodriguez, a former jockey and Vyjack's morning exercise rider, knows the best-laid plans are scrambled the moment the gate springs open.
Rodriguez will put the race in the hands of Gomez, the nation's leading rider from 2006 to 2008. Gomez is winless in nine Derby mounts.
"He's a big boy, he's been in the big races. It's up to him," Rodriguez said. "The Derby is so hard, everything has to go perfect. When you break from the gate, it's a different game."
By his lonesome While the other Derby horses have been acclimating at Churchill Downs, Lines of Battle remained isolated in quarantine following a 14-hour trip from Ireland.
T.J. Comerford, assistant to trainer Aidan O'Brien, said the colt settled in nicely since arriving Wednesday. He is scheduled to gallop today following his quarantine release. Until then, the colt can only walk around the fenced-off barn.
"We're used to traveling our horses," Comerford said. "There's not a problem. He's 100 percent."
Tight security The Derby horses are under 24-hour security. In addition to video surveillance, deputies are posted outside the barns to monitor all interactions with the horses and to collect used veterinarian supplies in sealed evidence bags pending post-race testing results.