John R. Velazquez
John R. Velazquez (born November 24, 1971, in Carolina, Puerto Rico) is a jockey in Thoroughbred horse racing. Admitted to the Horse Racing Hall of fame in 2012, as of 2014[update], he is the all-time leading money-earning jockey in North America.
He learned to ride in his native Puerto Rico. On January 3, 1990, he won his first race, aboard Rodas at El Nuevo Comandante racetrack in Canóvanas, Puerto Rico. That same year, under the guidance of agent and former jockey, Angel Cordero, Jr., he moved to New York State where he has earned 24 riding titles at Aqueduct Racetrack, Belmont Park, and Saratoga Race Course.
A winner of multiple Breeders' Cup races, he has also won graded stakes races such as the Kentucky Oaks, Blue Grass Stakes, Dubai World Cup, E. P. Taylor Stakes (twice), Whitney Handicap, Woodbine Mile, plus the Cigar Mile Handicap. To date in his career, John Velazquez has ridden more than 5,000 winners. In 2004 and 2005 he was the United States Champion Jockey by earnings and was voted the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey in 2004 and 2005.
In 2006, he was elected to the Puerto Rico Horse Racing Hall of Fame.
In 2009, Velazquez, known at tracks as "Johnny V," was awarded the Santa Anita George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award. That same year, he led Quality Road to a win at the Florida Derby, knocking off the previously unbeaten Dunkirk in the process. Ironically, he rode Dunkirk to his second-place finish in the Grade l Belmont Stakes.
In October 13, 2013, Velazquez became the all-time leading money winner among North American jockeys, surpassing Pat Day in the ninth race at Belmont, aboard the filly Bit Bustin. After that race, his earnings reached $297,922,320 in career purses. The next year, Velazquez became the all-time leading money winner in the history of jockeying and the first whose earnings surpass $300 million.
2007 Belmont Stakes
2011 and Animal Kingdom
On May 7, 2011, Velazquez won his first Kentucky Derby, riding Animal Kingdom. Velazquez was supposed to ride Uncle Mo, but his horse was removed from the race due to stomach problems. Then, due to an injury to Robby Albarado, Animal Kingdom's regular rider, Velazquez took up the reins, ending up in first place.
Velázquez rode Animal Kingdom again at the 136th Preakness Stakes and almost repeated the Kentucky Derby feat, coming from behind. However, Animal Kingdom finished second to Shackleford. Velázquez said about the loss, "It's a tough one. It's a real tough one ... I thought this horse had a really good chance to make it. Things didn't go our way today. He ran great, but he didn't quite get there."
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- McGee, Marty. "35th Annual Eclipse Awards". Daily Racing Form, January 23, 2006. Retrieved on May 4, 2013.
- USA Today. "Velazquez rides record six winners at Saratoga". Associated Press, September 3, 2001. Retrieved on May 4, 2013.
- "Annuary of the Puerto Rico Horse Racing Hall of Fame for the year 2006
- Record Victory in Dubai in World's Richest Race, nytimes.com, 28 March 2009, accessed 29 March 2008.
- Velazquez Becomes Top Money-Earning Rider, bloodhorse.com, 13 October 2013, accessed 14 October 2013.
- Erick Rodríguez (March 22, 2014). "El jinete boricua John Velázquez hace historia". El Nuevo Día.
- Animal Kingdom wins 137th Kentucky Derby on Sporting News (May 7, 2011)
- Shackleford edges Animal Kingdom in Preakness on SFGate; Wilkin, Tim (May 22, 2011)
- "John Velazquez". Retrieved 2012-06-13.
- ESPN - April 23, 2012
- Springstead, Will. "Life of a jockey's wife not always glamorous". The Post-Star (Glens Falls, N.Y.), August 23, 2010. Retrieved on June 1, 2013.