Johnny V owned New York Racing
2012 Racing Hall of Fame inductee John R. Velazquez has been successful for close to 3 decades. Since 1990, the venerable jockey hasn't won less than $2,000,000 in purses. In 2004 and 2005, when Velazquez won the Eclipse Award for Top Jockey in both years, Velazquez dominated racing. His mounts won over $20 million in both years. In 2004, horses that Velazquez rode won a staggering $22,220,261.
The former New York King is looking to be the King in 2016 as well. From 57 mounts so far in 2016, Velazquez'es rides have finished first 14 times, placed second 8 times, and finished third 6 times. That's not counting today, Thursday Feb. 4, or this weekend. He's winning at close to 25%. His in the money percentage is at 49%. The jockey colony in New York is deep. The Ortiz brothers, Irad and Jose, terrific apprentice jock Eric Cancel, veteran Cornelio Velasquez, and steady hands Junior Alvarado and Kendrick Carmouche, all ride on the New York Circuit.
Even with the competition, Johnny V. has continued his excellent riding. See below for what I feel are some of his top high-profile rides during his amazing career, a career that doesn't appear to have an end in sight.
John R. Velazquez'es Best Rides...So Far
1. 2007 Belmont Stakes, Rags to Riches - The Todd Pletcher trained filly Rags to Riches wasn't just taking on the boys in the 2007 Belmont Stakes. She was taking on the boy in Preakness winner Curlin. Curlin would go on to become the American Horse of the Year in both 2007 and 2008. He's gone down as one of the greatest race horses to ever live. Curlin went off at 6/5 in the 2007 Belmont Stakes. Rags to Riches went off at 4 to 1. What's amazing is that the filly stumbled out of the gate, Johnny V had to take her wide around the first gigantic Big Sandy turn, 4 wide around the final turn in the Belmont, and still push her to fight Curlin to the wire! Rags to Riches was the first filly to win the Belmont Stakes in 102 years.
2. 1998 Breeders' Cup Mile, Da Hoss - Tom Durkin said it best, "This is the greatest comeback since Lazarus!" Da Hoss ran twice in 1998. He won an allowance in October and then won the BC Mile in November. That's it. Trained by Michael Dickinson, Da Hoss had no business even being in the race. The 1998 BC Mile was deep. Favorite Trick, with Pat Day aboard, was the favorite. Desert Prince from Europe was the second choice. The brilliant Labeeb went off as the third choice. Joyeux Danseur also ran. At one point, Alex Solis aboard Hawksley Hill headed Johnny V aboard Da Hoss, but the brilliant John R. Velazquez got Da Hoss down at the wire first.
3. 2014 Breeders' Cup Turf, Main Sequence - A lot of horseplayers might argue and say that Johnny V's ride aboard Animal Kingdom in the 2011 Kentucky Derby was better. What's notable about this ride to me is that Johnny V wasn't aboard the best horse. Well, he wasn't according to the bettors. Telescope, a Euro invader, went off at $1.60 to 1. Jockey Ryan Moore saved all of the ground aboard Telescope. At the top of the stretch, it looked like Moore was going to take it home, but then Maxime Guyon aboard second choice Flintshire made a menacing move. Flintshire had an easier trip, just like Telescope, than Main Sequence. Once again, Johnny V proved that he knew he could give up ground aboard his horse and still win on the turf. It takes a lot for a jockey to have that kind of courage.
4. 2011 Kentucky Derby, Animal Kingdom - Johnny V brought home a true long shot with his win aboard Animal Kingdom in the 2011 Kentucky Derby. The son of brilliant grass runner Leroidesanimeaux paid a $43.80 win mutuel. The field for the 2011 Kentucky Derby was bereft with horses that would go on to greatness. Mucho Macho Man ended up winning the 2013 Breeders Cup Classic while Animal Kingdom would go on to win the 2013 Dubai World Cup. It was a great ride by Johnny V but not better, in my humble opinion, then the ride that Velazquez gave aboard Rags to Riches, Da Hoss or Main Sequence.
The great John R. Velazquez continues to own the jockey colony in New York. Expect Johnny V to continue to win Grade 1 races for years to come!
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