Joel Rosario will be out for six weeks with a fractured bone in his left foot and will be replaced by Jose Lezcano aboard Orb in today’s 144th running of the Grade 1 Travers at Saratoga.
Rosario, who was unseated after finishing last aboard Casual Elegance in Friday’s seventh race, was taken to Saratoga Hospital and discharged that night after the fracture was confirmed. He was seen Saturday morning in Albany by Dr. Rick Alfred, the team physician for the New York Giants, and was fitted with a cast, according to his agent, Ron Anderson.
Rosario, who was the second-leading rider at Saratoga with 41 victories, should return to riding in about six weeks, said Anderson. Rosario, who has ridden Orb in all but two of his 10 starts, leads all jockeys in North America this year with 237 wins and $16,713,440 in purses earned.
Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey said several factors went into the decision to go with Lezcano, who himself was taken off his final mount Friday after wrenching his leg when his horse, Judy the Beauty, flipped behind the gate at the start of the Grade 1 Ballerina.
“I’ve ridden him more than some of the others that are available,” said McGaughey of Lezcano, currently the fourth-leading rider at the Spa with 21 wins heading into Saturday’s card. “I’ve got great respect for all of them. Jose is sound this morning, he was cleared by First Aid, and he’s raring to go. I’m comfortable with that, and the owners are comfortable with that.
“I was also thinking about Jose having replaced John Velazquez on Wise Dan twice, and that worked out fine,” he added of Lezcano, was was second aboard Fly Down in the 2010 Travers and 11th on Street Life in 2012.
In other graded stakes races Saturday, Rosario will be replaced by Hall of Famer Mike Smith on My Happy Face (3-1) in the Grade 1, $500,000 Test; by Luis Saez on Somali Lemonade (6-1) in the Grade 2, $250,000 Ketel One Ballston Spa; and by Julien Leparoux on Forty Tales (5-2) in the Grade 1, $500,000 Foxwoods King’s Bishop.
Orb, who finished fourth in the Preakness and third in the Belmont Stakes, is the 4-1 third choice for the 1 ¼-mile Travers behind Verrazano (2-1) and Grade 1 Belmont Stakes winner Palace Malice (5-2).
“It’s a kind of bump in the road,” said McGaughey of the jockey change. “Johnny [Velazquez] is awfully familiar with Verrazano and Mike Smith is very familiar with Palace Malice. But Will Take Charge has a new rider [Luis Saez] too. Orb’s not a difficult horse to ride. Jose is going to have to judge what’s going on. I just hope he’s in the mix.”