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
1998 – First Breeder’s Cup
victory on Da Hoss in the Mile and first Saratoga riding title.
2001 – Wins 2,000th
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
2009 – Wins George Woolf
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.