John Velazquez took top honors, but it was all of his fellow riders who went home winners on Friday afternoon.
Photo: Jerry Dzierwinski, Maryland Jockey Club
42, compiled 27 points to edge Kent Desormeaux and win the inaugural
$50,000 Xpressbet Hall of Fame Jockey Challenge at Pimlico Race Course.
in New York, Velazquez won two of four challenge races to finish with a
five-point edge over Desormeaux in a competition that featured seven of
the eight active Hall of Fame riders.
taking part were Northern California-based Russell Baze, North
America’s all-time leader with 12,253 victories; Edgar Prado, one of
Maryland’s most decorated jockeys with 24 individual riding titles from
1989-99; Mike Smith, who owns a record 20 Breeders’ Cup victories;
three-time Kentucky Derby winner Calvin Borel; and 2014 inductee Alex
scratches among participants caused separate win and exacta wagering on
the four-race challenge to be canceled. The total purse was split
evenly among the riders, each receiving $7,142.86.
part of the event, the Stronach Group, North America’s leading
Thoroughbred racetrack owner/operator which includes Pimlico, donated
$50,000 to the Permanently Disabled Jockeys’ Fund.
incredible to have all this talent in one room, all these Hall of
Famers,” said Velazquez, who owns one Kentucky Derby and two Belmont
Stakes among his 5,132 career victories to go along with two Eclipse
Awards and more than $302 million in lifetime purses.
am the youngest one, so I have followed a lot of them and I am a big
fan of all of them,” he said. “It’s great to be here. It’s a great
challenge, for a great cause. I’m glad to be part of it.”
challenge shared Friday’s card with eight stakes races including the
$500,000 Black-Eyed Susan (G2) for 3-year-old fillies and the $300,000
Pimlico Special (G3) for older horses; as well as the fifth and final
edition of Lady Legends for the Cure presented by Wells Fargo, a
pari-mutuel race featuring eight retired female riding pioneers.
marked the sixth year for a jockey challenge at Pimlico on the eve of
the Preakness Stakes and the first in its new format, bringing together a
group that has combined to win nearly 45,000 races and more than $1.6
billion in purses, nine Eclipse Awards, 20 Triple Crown races and 41
Breeders’ Cup races.
points were awarded for finishing first among challenge participants,
six for second, four for third and three for fourth. Baze and Solis tied
for third place with 12 points apiece, followed by Prado (six), Smith
(four) and Borel (three).
a lot of the guys didn’t get to ride most of the races,” Velazquez
said. ‘With all the rain, there were a lot of scratches. It would have
been a lot more fun if everybody had a little more opportunity to ride
in the races and make it a little bit closer, but we can only deal with
what Mother Nature throws at us.”
captured each of the first two challenge races, finishing first among
participants in the second race and winning the fourth race with Coco
Punch ($7.80) for trainer Robin Graham to give him 24 points.
44, who won two Eclipse Awards, 648 races and $11.7 million in purses
at Pimlico during his three years in Maryland from 1987-89, had just
four points after two challenge races. He was third among participants
in the second race and scratched out of the fourth.
Velazquez sitting out the sixth race, Desormeaux won with Handsome
Harley ($5.20) to cut the lead to 24-16 heading into the final challenge
race. Velazquez, who picked up Noor Un Nisa after his original mount
was scratched, was fourth in the eighth race while Desormeaux was
55, and Smith, 48, were each limited to one mount, both in the eighth
race. Riding for the first time at Pimlico in his 41-year career and
just the third time in Maryland, Baze was first among participants with
Seaside, while Smith was third on Dora Dora.
50, was second among participants in the fourth and sixth race, and
scratched out of the second and eighth. Borel, 47, and Prado, 46, each
rode only in the challenge opener, finishing second and fourth,
won Pimlico’s inaugural Preakness eve jockey challenge over three
rivals in 2009, and was second to Javier Castellano in 2010. Switched to
an all-female format, the challenge was won by Emma-Jayne Wilson in
2011 and local favorite Rosie Napravnik in 2012.
repeated her victory last year, when the challenge was tweaked again
for a ‘Battle of the Sexes,’ featuring four male and female riders.