In guiding We Miss Artie to victory in the Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati Spiral Stakes (gr. III) March 22 at Turfway Park, Racing Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez became the first rider in history to reach $300 million in North American purse earnings.
Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s We Miss Artie secured $282,000 in purse earnings for his connections, which appropriately enough included multiple Eclipse Award-winning trainer Todd Pletcher. The Spiral marked the 353rd time Velazquez and Pletcher had teamed for a stakes win and 226th time they’d won a graded stakes together.
Velazquez, who added a stakes victory in the $85,000 New Mexico Breeders’ Oaks March 23 at Sunland Park, finished the weekend with $300,330,477 in career purse earnings. That figure is more than $2 million ahead of the next closest rider, Pat Day, and nearly $50 million ahead of the next closest active rider, Mike Smith, who ranks fifth on the career earnings list at $250,690,498.
In addition to Velazquez, only a dozen riders have surpassed $200 million in North American earnings. Along with Day and Smith, riders in that club include the retired Jerry Bailey, Chris McCarron, and Laffit Pincay Jr.; and the active Edgar Prado, Kent Desormeaux, Gary Stevens, Alex Solis, Corey Nakatani, and Garrett Gomez.
Counting purses earned in all countries, Velazquez stands at $307,603,999 through March 23. He has registered 27 victories in races that carry purses of at least $1 million, his most recent coming aboard Wise Dan in September in the Ricoh Woodbine Mile Stakes (Can-I).
Velazquez’s most lucrative North American victory came aboard English Channel in 2007 in the $3 million John Deere Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. I) at Monmouth Park. His most lucrative victory worldwide came in 2005 in the $6 million Emirates Airline Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) aboard Roses in May.
A two-time Eclipse Award winner, Velazquez is one of just 25 jockeys with more than 5,000 victories. Through March 23, he had notched 848 career stakes wins, including 527 graded stakes.