John R.  Velazquez

John R. Velazquez

John R. Velazquez was born November 24, 1971, in Carolina, Puerto Rico. He learned to ride in his native Puerto Rico. On January 3, 1990, he won his first race, aboard Rodas at El Nuevo Comandante racetrack in Canóvanas, Puerto Rico. That same year, under the guidance of agent and former jockey, Angel Cordero, Jr., he moved to New York State where he has earned 24 riding titles at Aqueduct Racetrack, Belmont Park, and Saratoga Race Course. In 1998 he won the Breeders' Cup Mile, on Da Hoss. A winner of eight Breeders' Cup races, he has also won graded stakes races such as the Kentucky Oaks, Blue Grass Stakes, Dubai World Cup, E. P. Taylor Stakes (twice), Whitney Handicap, Woodbine Mile, plus the Cigar Mile Handicap. To date in his career, John Velazquez has ridden more than 4,000 winners. In 2004 and 2005 he was the United States Champion Jockey by earnings and was voted the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey in 2004 and 2005. In 2004, he won the Bill Shoemaker Award for top Breeders’ Cup performance by a jockey, winning the Breeders' Cup Distaff with Ashado and the Breeders' Cup Sprint with Speightstown. Velazquez set a Saratoga record with six wins in one card on September 3, 2001. In 2006, he was elected to the Puerto Rico Horse Racing Hall of Fame. In 2009, Velazquez, known at tracks as "Johnny V," was awarded the Santa Anita George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award. That same year, he led Quality Road to a win at the Florida Derby, knocking off the previously unbeaten Dunkirk in the process. Ironically, he rode Dunkirk to his second-place finish in the Grade l Belmont Stakes. As of October 13, 2013, Velazquez is the all-time leading money winner among North American jockeys. He surpassed Pat Day in the ninth race at Belmont, aboard the filly Bit Bustin. As of that race, his earnings reached $297,922,320 in career purses.