Juan Sanchez, the co-leading Thoroughbred rider at Los Alamitos in 2017, returns to the saddle for the first time in nearly eight months when he pilots a pair of runners here on Friday night.
Sanchez will be aboard Quantum Force in the third race and then Cioppino Pasadino in the fourth. He has been out of action since being involved in a spill on October 26. The jockey endured several injuries as a result, most serious being a pancreatic fracture, which eventually led to doctors having to puncture his lungs because of complications with his pancreas.
The iron-tough rider says he feels healthy and strong following a lengthy recovery period.
"I've been exercising horses for the past month and I feel great," Sanchez said. "I took my time because I wanted to be in top shape upon my return. I feel very motivated. I've had so many people encouraging me and helping along the way. It felt good to have so many people there for support. I also had had injuries to my ribs, jaw and eyelid, but the pancreas problems were the most difficult. I had to very careful with my diet and I'm so happy to say that everything is back to normal now. I've always taken care of my body and watched my food intake. It feels great to no longer have any restrictions."
Sanchez tied Vinny Bednar for leading Thoroughbred rider here with 62 wins in 2017 and was on pace for another great season in 2018 before the injury. He finished the year with 51 wins. Sanchez, who has won races at a 24% clip over the past two years, has piloted 243 Thoroughbreds to victories during his riding career.