Eclipse Award: John Velazquez, Jockey

Eclipse Award: John Velazquez, Jockey
Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt
John Velazquez wins top honors again.
By Esther Marr
John Velazquez knew he had a red-hot year upon passing the single-season record for earnings in November for North American jockeys set by Jerry Bailey in 2003.

And with more than $63 million earned over the last three years in addition to being the leading New York jockey for the fourth consecutive time, Velazquez is well justified in receiving his third Eclipse.

Traveling with his agent, Angel Cordero Jr., Velazquez became a fierce worldwide competitor last year, winning stakes at 15 different tracks in the United States, Canada, and Dubai.

Velazquez' first secret of success was continuing to team up with Todd Pletcher-trained horses for half of his total earnings, 30 of his 44 graded stakes victories, and 43 of his 65 total stakes wins.
Even more impressive was the 34-year-old jockey's 46 individual stakes winners, including champion older female Ashado, champion turf male Leroidesanimaux, Roses in May, Travers (gr. I) winner Flower Alley, and grade I winners Bandini, Sand Springs, Happy Ticket, Luas Line, Honey Ryder, and Adieu. In addition, he guided Flower Alley to a second-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Classic - Powered by Dodge (gr. I).

And though he did not reach his record number of 65 wins at Saratoga, set in 2004, Velazquez dominated the meet's stakes, winning 14 at the Spa for total purse earnings of more than $3.9 million, which surpassed his 2004 record total.

Velazquez and Cordero look forward to the 4-year-old campaigns of Pletcher-trained Indian Vale, Flower Alley, Magna Graduate, and Bandini for more victories in 2006.

In North America in 2005, Velazquez won 250 of 1,147 starts, earning $20,799,923 in purses. His strike rate was 22%.

Voting for Outstanding Jockey:
John Velazquez, 195; Edgar Prado, 20; Jerry Bailey, 19; Garrett Gomez, 12; Russell Baze, 6; Ramon Dominguez, 3; Rafael Bejarano, 2; Eddie Castro, 1; Gary Stevens, 1; Patrick Valenzuela, 1; Voter Abstentions, 2.

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