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A New York State of Racing

For Johnny V, the Path to 5,000 Goes through the Met Mile

Johnny V 615 X 400
Photo: Eclipse Spotswire
Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez began the weekend eight victories shy of becoming the 28th rider to win 5,000 races. The path to 5,000 goes through the Belmont Park multi-graded stakes race card on Memorial Day. With mounts in all four of those stakes, Johnny V. has a good chance at getting closer to that milestone on Monday.
In a career of 24 years, Johnny V. has won over 20 riding titles on the NYRA circuit, two Eclipse Awards, and Hall of Fame induction.
1990 – First win Jan. 3 on Rodas in Puerto Rico.
1991 – First graded stakes win in the Ohio Derby.
1996 – Wins 1,000th race.
1998 – First Breeder’s Cup victory on Da Hoss in the Mile and first Saratoga riding title.
2001 – Wins 2,000th race.
2004 – Wins 3,000th race, his first Eclipse Award, leads US in earnings.
2007 – First Triple Crown win in Belmont Stakes on Rags to Riches.
2008 – Wins 4,000th race.
2009 – Wins George Woolf Jockey Award
2011 – First Kentucky Derby win on Animal Kingdom.
2012 – Inducted in the Racing Hall of Fame in Saratoga and won his twelfth Breeder’s Cup race on Wise Dan.
On Memorial Day at Belmont Park there is a $500,000 guaranteed all graded stake pick four, featuring the Sands Point (G2) the Ogden Phipps (G1), the Acorn (G1), and the Metropolitan Mile (G1).
In the first leg (race seven), the Sands Point, which is a mile and a sixteenth contest for three-year-old fillies on the turf, Johnny V. has the mount on Wave Theory. Listed at 4-1, this Chad Brown runner has only a maiden victory but lots of bad luck in recent races. My handicapping guru, Brian Zipse, analyzed the Sands Point in a recent ZATT posting.
In the Ogden Phipps Velazquez gets a first-time mount on Believe You Can, after her regular jockey Rosie Napravnik chose to ride the other Larry Jones runner, Joyful Victory. Believe You Can, who is also 4-1 on the morning line, has won 8 of 13 career starts including the 2012 Kentucky Oaks. This elite field of older fillies and mares will be going 8½ furlongs around one turn on Big Sandy.
The Acorn features a field of six very speedy three-year-old fillies going one mile. Johnny V. has the mount on Todd Pletcher’s even money favorite, Kauai Katie. This Stonestreet Farm runner has lost only once in her seven race career and that was in the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile Fillies. She faces a stiff challenge to her front-running style from Midnight Lucky and Close Hatches. Zipse has also given a detailed analysis to this grade one contest.
The last leg of the pick four and the afternoon’s feature is the Met Mile and Velazquez will be riding Cross Traffic. This Pletcher runner is the 3-1 second choice behind the “Beast of Belmont”, Flat Out.  These two battled down the stretch in the Westchester at Belmont, when Flat Out prevailed by a head to remain undefeated for his career on Big Sandy, earning the same 115 Beyer Speed Figure. This field of eight is loaded with 2013 graded stakes winners and is far from a two horse race. Hitting this late pick four is going to require using a lot of horses in this super competitive stake.
Velazquez has two other mounts on the card including Welter Weight in the sixth race, a salty maiden special weight with a purse of $70,000. Welter Weight is a $1,000,000 purchase, who runs for Stonestreet Stable and George Bolton.  This four-year-old was last seen in Feb. 2012, running second to Bodemeister. The field includes a couple of speedy first-time starters in Mr. O’Leary and Eastwood. 


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Older Comments about For Johnny V, the Path to 5,000 Goes through the Met Mile...

Ba bum ching! 5000!
Tough week for Johnny, no worries- he'll get there soon.
Today is the day!
UPDATE -- Velazquez did not have a winner on Sunday. Today he was six lives mounts in races 3,6,7,8,9,10.
UPDATE -- Johnny V was 0 for 2 on Saturday. He has one mount on Sunday.
good for him. Longevity does not visit everyone
Winning #5,000 on Memorial Day would be a neat trick ... Johnny V has been one of the best for a long time now.

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Matt Shifman has been on the Horse Racing Nation staff since 2011 and currently serves as Assistant Editor. Matt covers Aqueduct, Belmont Park, Monmouth Park, and Saratoga in his two HRN blogs Racing at the Jersey Shore and New York State of Racing.


Matt’s articles and tweets frequently appear in the America’s Best Racing weekly Notebook. In 2012 he became a voter in the NTRA weekly polls for the Top Thoroughbred and Top Three-Year-Old.


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