Belterra’s Leading Rider Santiago Gonzalez Eyes September Return From Injury

Belterra Park’s leading rider, Santiago Gonzalez, currently recovering from a fractured left femur sustained during a training mishap at the Cincinnati, Ohio, track on July 23, is hoping to return to the saddle as early as mid-September, his agent, Bert Crawford, said on Monday.

“The doctor said he’s healing exceptionally well,” said Crawford. “Santiago thinks he’ll be back the last two or three weeks of the meet.”

He’ll see the doctor again on Sept. 10 for an update, Crawford said.

Belterra runs through Oct. 8.

Gonzalez, a 37-year-old native of Venezuela, was breezing a 2-year-old on July 23 when the horse tried to jump the rail, Crawford said. He suspects Gonzalez sustained the injury when his leg struck a support post.

The horse was not injured, according to Crawford.

“The break wasn’t severe,” Crawford said. “Doctors put a metal rod in the femur, but they never put a cast on the leg. He’s now broken every bone in his body. But Santiago said all is well and he’s looking forward to making a comeback.”

Despite missing the last two weeks, Gonzalez maintains a 15-win lead in the rider standings, with 69 wins from 263 mounts, a 26% success rate.

“He was on track to win 120 and break the record, which is 105 or 106 wins,” Crawford said.

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Gonzalez, nicknamed “El Ciclon” (the cyclone) in Venezuela, where he recorded over 2,200 wins, is riding his first year at Belterra since relocating to the area last December and riding the winter meet at Turfway Park. After arriving in South Florida from Venezuela in December 2013, Gonzalez tried Southern California for five years, hitting the $5.5 million mark in mount earnings in 2016. He left in October 2018, eventually returning to South Florida. He was unable to break through there and set his sights on the Turfway-Belterra circuit.

“He’s got a house here and has settled in at Belterra and Turfway,” Crawford said. “He called me last September and asked if I would be his agent. Two weeks before the Turfway meet I said, ‘Don’t come,’ because it was going to be really tough since nobody here knew him. He said, ‘I want to try.’”

Gonzalez wound up third in the Turfway winter meet rider standings behind Gerardo Corrales and Rafael Bejarano. He dominated the Belterra meet from the start.

“He’s such a smart rider and a hard, hard worker,” Crawford said. “He always has the horse in position to win.”

The post Belterra’s Leading Rider Santiago Gonzalez Eyes September Return From Injury appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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