Strong Grip

- -

Joel Rosario shook hands with well wishers four times during the short walk from the winner’s circle to the jockey’s room Wednesday at Keeneland, the grip of his black-gloved right hand firm and strong and showing no ill effects from a fracture more than three months earlier.

Rosario earned a trip to the winner’s circle aboard No Hiding Place in the featured seventh race, an allowance-optional on the main track, for his first win in his second mount of the day on his first day riding since suffering his injury Feb. 20 at Gulfstream Park.

The rainy and dreary conditions – which kept midweek crowd down to 8,477 – did little to faze Rosario as he walked and talked en route to the room.

“I’m feeling better; that makes it even better,” Rosario said after the 4-year-old Munnings gelding won the $66,000 feature by an easy 3 lengths as the 3/5 favorite.

Rosario broke his wrist when his mount Kandoo fell over a fallen rival in the $75,000 Melody of Colors Stakes at Gulfstream, an accident that also sent fellow jockey Rafael Hernandez to the hospital with a broken collarbone and several broken ribs.

Rosario spent the last few weeks getting on horses in the morning to prepare for his comeback, which also included a mount aboard the 2-year-old maiden filly Price Too High in the fourth race. He finished fourth in that race after the Scat Daddy filly broke slow and trailed the field early.

“I took a little bit of time off, saw my family and then came back to Florida,” Rosario said. “I did some running, trying to get ready to get back on horses. It’s hard when you go out there and being off that long, the three months I was off, gets you out of shape. It’s great to be back.”

Rosario is named on two mounts for Wesley Ward Thursday at Keeneland – Taglia in Thursday’s fifth race and Lightning Dove in the eighth. Ward trains No Hiding Place for Michael Tabor.

“I’m thankful to Wesley Ward, he always gives me good opportunities,” Rosario said. “I’m really happy for him.”