Jockey John Velazquez now holds money record for North American

John Velazquez aboard 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom. Photo credit Cindy Pierson Dulay

John Velazquez aboard 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom. Photo credit Cindy Pierson Dulay

Last Sunday, 2011 Kentucky Derby winning jockey John Velazquez established a record for the most purse money won by a North American-based jockey. A month shy of his 42nd birthday, we can expect the money record to only increase the longer that Velazquez rides.

It was the ninth race on Sunday and a second place finish aboard Gary Contessa trained Bit Bustin at Belmont Park was all Velazquez needed.

The second-place prize of $15,400 pushed Velazquez’s career mount earnings to $297,922,320, surpassing Pat Day’s record of $297,914,839. It is ironic that Pat Day celebrated his 60th Birthday on Sunday. Pat Day retired 9 years ago at age 51 with 8, 803 wins. Day’s record is fourth in all-time career winnings with 40,299 mounts with most of those wins coming at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky.

Velazquez, 41, ranks 23rd in career wins with 5,082 from 28,127 mounts.

That Velazquez reached the horse racing earnings record in 12,000 fewer mounts than Pat Day is reflective of the higher purses that have been offered the last several years compared with when Day was in his prime.

“It’s something that happened to happen, and I’m glad it happened,” Velazquez said. He had gone winless in four previous rides on Sunday.

Velazquez entered Sunday’s card trailing Day by $25,519. Velazquez chipped away at the record by finishing third in the first race, fourth in the third race, and third in the fifth race before his second-place finish in the ninth.

This is the third milestone for Velazquez this year. On June 14 at Belmont, Velazquez won his 5,000th career race. On July 27, Velazquez became Saratoga’s all-time leading rider in races won.

Velazquez is a two-time Eclipse Award-winning jockey who was inducted into the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame in 2012, the year after he won the Kentucky Derby.

Velazquez was the leading rider on the New York Racing Association circuit from 2001-04 and has won 22 individual NYRA meet titles. Some of the horses that Johnny “V” is best known for riding are Da Hoss, Storm Flag Flying, Lemon Drop Kid, Ashado, Kitten’s Joy, Flower Alley, Lawyer Ron, Roses in May, Bluegrass Cat, Circular Quay, Scat Daddy, Rags to Riches, Commentator, Indian Blessing, Uncle Mo, Animal Kingdom.