of Fame jockey John Velazquez
won the fourth race at Saratoga Race
Course on Saturday to become the historic track's all-time leading rider
with 694 victories.
41, had tied retired Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey with 693
victories when he rode three winners on Thursday's card. Winless with
three mounts on Friday, Velazquez finished sixth in the second race and
then came from behind aboard the Todd Pletcher-trained Unitarian ($6.10)
to win the fourth.
definitely want to say thank you to Todd [Pletcher]," said Velazquez.
"I've been riding for him since 1998 and we're still going. I want to
thank my family, without whose support I wouldn't be able to do this.
And I have to thank the fans. The fans have been great to me. Thank you
for your support. Thank you everyone. I appreciate it, and hope to win
was joined in the winner's circle presentation by his wife, Leona,
children Lerina and Michael; his agent, retired Hall of Fame jockey
Angel Cordero, Jr., who rode 649 winners at Saratoga; Bailey; the
Saratoga riding colony and Christopher Kay, CEO & President of the
New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA).
was a matter of time," said Bailey. "I looked at the numbers; he goes
by all-time money winnings either this year or next year past myself and
Pat Day, he's going to set the standard for everybody. He's a great
rider and he deserves every bit of this. I do hope he takes the time to
enjoy and reflect on this, because it's major."
Last month at Belmont Park, Velazquez won his 5,000th career victory, also aboard a horse trained by Pletcher.
really happy for Johnny," said Pletcher, who has trained 255 of
Velazquez's 694 Saratoga winners. "It's his moment, you know?"
won the 2007 Belmont with Rags to Riches and the 2005 Travers with
Flower Alley for Pletcher. He also won the 2012 Belmont aboard Union
Rags and the 2011 Kentucky Derby with Animal Kingdom.
in Carolina, Puerto Rico, Velazquez began riding in the mainland United
States in 1990. A winner of 22 NYRA meet titles, including five at
Saratoga, Velazquez won the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey in
2004 and 2005 and in 2009 was honored by his fellow riders with the
George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award. He has captured 11 Breeders' Cup
races, most recently the 2012 Mile with reigning Horse of the Year Wise
Velazquez was inducted into racing's Hall of Fame last year in Saratoga.