OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Jockey Ramon Dominguez said Thursday he is hopeful to receive clearance in three weeks to begin getting on horses in the morning, which could pave the way for him to return to race-riding in mid-to-late March.
Dominguez, who sustained a fractured skull in a riding accident at Aqueduct on Jan. 18, has continued to make significant strides in his recovery, impressing all of his doctors.
“So far, all the doctors, whenever I ask them how long I will be out, they were not able to respond because I guess it was too early,” Dominguez said. “But everybody says you will make a full recovery very quick; you’re doing better than you’re supposed to at this point. Everybody seems very optimistic.”
Dominguez was released from the Burke Rehabilitation Hospital on Feb. 6 and has been doing a variety of physical, occupational, and speech/recognition therapies the past week at a local clinic. Dominguez said that after his first session his physical therapist told him there is nothing more he can do for him because “my physical level is pretty high.”
Dominguez said he would continue to do the other therapies – while perhaps seeking another physical therapist – for three more weeks before meeting with his doctors at Burke – Barry Jordan and Mark Herceg – who could give him clearance to exercise horses at that time.
“If you ask me personally, without knowing the doctors, I feel capable physically of doing it right now – I feel that good,” Dominguez said.
Dominguez’s voice sounded stronger and he appeared even better physically than when he spoke to Daily Racing Form on Feb. 5, the day before he was released from Burke.
Obviously, the key to when Dominguez can return to ride races is dependent on how he feels – physically and mentally – after galloping or breezing horses in the morning.
“I feel as fit as I could be, but I know of course that’s deceiving,” he said. “By the time I get on a horse – God-willing when the doctors say I can go back and exercise horses in the morning and also start jogging – that will help, but nothing really compares to actually riding a race.”
Dominguez, the three-time reigning Eclipse Award winner, was at Belmont on Thursday to tape an interview with the New York Racing Association – which launched its new website on Thursday. Parts of the interview will air on HRTV on Friday.
Though he was at the track, Dominguez did not visit any horsemen, but said he plans to do so beginning next week. He also said he has not watched the replay of the spill in which he was involved – or almost any other race, for that matter – and has spent most of his free time playing video games with his sons Alexander and Matthew.
“Of course I have so much passion for the sport and what I do, but it doesn’t really help me mentally to watch races,” he said.