Cornelio Velasquez wins race number 3,000.

Cornelio Velasquez wins race number 3,000.

Coglianese Photos/NYRA

Cornelio Velasquez Records 3,000th Victory

Panamanian jockey reaches milestone in a maiden claiming race at Aqueduct Nov. 27.

Cornelio Velasquez, one of the leading riders on the New York circuit for many years, earned his 3,000th victory in North America aboard favored Up in Smoke in the fifth race Nov. 27 at Aqueduct Racetrack.

“I feel good,” said Velasquez, who also won more than 1,000 races in his native Panama before moving his tack to the United States. “I’m very happy to have had a big career and that the trainers have given me a lot of chances. It’s like family here at Aqueduct; there’s a lot of competition, but I like New York. It’s the best.”

Velasquez drove Up in Smoke ($7.30) to a 5 1/2-length win in a $12,500 maiden claiming event at 6 1/2 furlongs for trainer Dominic Galluscio and owner Mark J. Lewis. The 3-year-old Smoke Glacken gelding was timed in 1:18.82 on a fast track.

Following the landmark win, Velasquez, 43, was tied for seventh in the jockey standings at Aqueduct’s fall meet with eight winners. Overall, he was third in New York with 169 winners in 2011.

Victories this year in New York include the Go for Wand (gr. II) with Lovely Lil Nov. 25 at Aqueduct, the Vosburgh Invitational (gr. I) aboard Giant Ryan and the Westchester (gr. III) on Caixa Eletronica, both at Belmont Park, and the Sword Dancer Invitational (gr. IT) with Winchester and the Victory Ride (gr. III) aboard Hot Summer, both at Saratoga Race Course.

Other top winning rides during his career have been aboard Flashpoint, Rightly So, Alcomo, Wasted Tears, Awesome Maria, Miss World, Tale of Ekati , Kip Deville, War Pass, Nobiz Like Shobiz, After Market, Take D' Tour, Gun Salute, and Riskaverse.

Earlier this month, Velasquez won the Breeders’ Cup Marathon (gr. II) at Churchill Downs with Afleet Again.

Velasquez, who rode his first winner in Panama in 1985, has finished among the top 10 jockeys on the NYRA circuit every year since 2004. In 2007, he won the coveted Saratoga riding title with 44 winners.