With a victory aboard Sweet Cat in the 11th race Sept. 1, jockey John Velazquez moved past Hall of Famer Angel Cordero Jr., and into the No. 2 spot among the all-time leading jockeys at Saratoga Race Course.
Velazquez, currently the leading jockey at the 2011 Saratoga meet, now has 650 victories at the Spa, surpassing Cordero, his agent and mentor, who retired with 649 wins.
They both trail retired Hall of Famer Jerry Bailey, who sits atop the leader board with 693 visits to the Saratoga winner’s circle.
“This means a lot,” said Velazquez, who has 49 winners so far this meet. “To be right next to Angel Cordero and follow in Jerry Bailey’s footsteps is a great accomplishment. There are no other words to describe it.”
Velazquez was congratulated in the winner’s circle by Cordero and trainer Todd Pletcher, who owns and trains Sweet Cat.
“I'm glad for him,” said Cordero. “I know I was happy when I did it.”
Earlier this summer, the New York Racing Association announced the jockey title of the Saratoga would be named after Cordero. Known as the “King of Saratoga,” Cordero won the Saratoga meet title 14 times from 1967 to 1989. He won an unprecedented 11 in a row from 1976-86.
Inducted into racing’s Hall of Fame in 1988, Cordero won the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey in 1982 and 1983. He led all North American riders in earnings in 1976, 1982 and 1983, and in wins in 1968. Cordero, who was born in Santurce, Puerto Rico, retired in 1992 with 7,057 career victories.
Rounding out the top five in wins among jockeys at Saratoga are Hall of Famers Edgar Prado and Pat Day, with 423 and 399 victories, respectively.
Velazquez, 39, is the career leader in purses earned at Saratoga, with more than $39 million and counting. Bailey is second all-time in purses at the Spa with $38 million.