Kent DesormeauxLooking fit enough to ride and keen of mind and spirit, Kent Desormeaux was at Santa Anita’s Clockers’ Corner Monday morning, just a week after suffering five fractured ribs and a bruised lung when kicked in the chest by his mount in the post parade of last Sunday’s eighth race.

“I’m up and about and I’m comfortable with a little help, not that I need it,” said the 44-year-old Hall of Fame rider and three-time Kentucky Derby winner, whose career has surged since he returned to ride full time in Southern California five months ago.

“The pain has dissipated enough for me to get around without being worried about coughing or sneezing anymore, so I’m happy about that. I feel like I’m ready to ride, but it’s day-to-day. I know one thing: the (safety) vest saved my life.”

The vests are made from materials similar to those used in bullet proof vests.

“The impact of a fall is probably going to cause a break anyway,” said veteran jockey Aaron Gryder. “But if you’re wearing the vest when another horse clips you and hits your spine, maybe it will keep you walking.

“If the vest only helps 10 percent of the time, it helps. The padding certainly made a difference for Kent. For him to fracture five ribs on top of that protection, I can’t imagine what the damage would have been from the hooves without it. Kent was very, very fortunate.”