Velazquez Receives Shoemaker Award

Velazquez Receives Shoemaker Award
Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt
John Velazquez caps two win Breeders' Cup day with Shoemaker Award.
Jockey John Velazquez, who won two races on Saturday's Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships card at Lone Star Park, was named recipient of the Shoemaker Award, voted on by the media covering the event.

The award, presented to the jockey with the best performance, not necessarily the most wins, was named in honor of the late Bill Shoemaker.

Velazquez, who won the Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I) with Ashado and the Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) with Speightstown, also finished second in three other races on the card-- with Roses in May in the Breeders' Classic – Powered by Dodge (gr. I), John Deere Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT) with Kitten's Joy, and VO5 Filly and Mare Turf (gr. IT) with Film Maker.

Velazquez was not present to accept the trophy from Breeders' Cup president and National Thoroughbred Racing commissioner D. G. Van Clief Jr. at the annual post-Breeders' Cup breakfast Sunday because he had already returned to his New York base.

"I am grateful to win such a prestigious award on the greatest day of racing," Velazquez said from Aqueduct racetrack on Sunday. "I would like to thank my owners and trainers for their outstanding support."

Retired jockey P. J. Cooksey, who accepted on behalf of Velazquez, related a story on her assistance by Shoemaker early in her career when she was an exercise rider in West Virginia in the 1970s.

One rainy day in 1977 Cooksey flew to California and approached Shoemaker, telling the legend she wanted to improve as a rider and felt the best way to do it was to seek out his advice.

Shoemaker met with the young Cooksey following the race card, advising her to "go back to West Virginia and ride as many horses as you can and ride in as many races as you can. He said you learn to ride by riding in races."

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