Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez became North America's all-time leading money-earning rider Oct. 13 at Belmont Park, surpassing Pat Day's record and reaching $297,922,320 in career purses.
According to figures provided by Equibase, Velazquez, 41, entered the afternoon's card $26,519 shy of Day's mark of $297,914,839, which the retired Hall of Fame member established in 2005. With four mounts, Velazquez finished third in the first race, fourth in the third race, and third in the fifth race to come within $7,919 of the record. He broke it with $15,400 earned for a second-place finish in the finale of the nine-race card aboard Bit Bustin.
"It's something that happened to happen, and I'm glad it happened," Velazquez said.
Earlier this year Velazquez became the all-time leading rider at Saratoga Race Course, breaking Jerry Bailey's record of 693 winners. In July, he posted his 5,000th career victory.
Velazquez passed Day in spite of having ridden more than 12,000 fewer races. The retired Bailey ranks third in career purse earnings with $296,113,529.
Born in Carolina, Puerto Rico, Velazquez began riding in the mainland United States in 1990. A winner of 22 New York Racing Association meet titles, including five at Saratoga, Velazquez won the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey in 2004 and 2005. In 2009, he was honored by his fellow riders with the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award.
Velazquez, who won the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) in 2011 with Animal Kingdom , is a two-time winner of the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) in 2007 with the filly Rags to Riches and in 2012 with Union Rags . He has captured 11 Breeders' Cup races, most recently the 2012 Mile (gr. IT) with reigning Horse of the Year Wise Dan.
He was inducted into the Racing Hall of Fame in 2012.