John Velazquez won four Saratoga stakes races and led all North American jockeys by stakes earnings to earn Jockeys’ Guild Jockey of the Week Honors for the week ending September 5, 2017. The award is voted on by a panel of experts for riding accomplishments by members of the Jockeys’ Guild, the organization which represents more than 950 riders in North America. Jockey of the Week is sponsored by Animal Element’s Foundation Detox and Product X Performance Enhancer.
Labor Day weekend hosts the finales for many favorite summer meets, and opportunities for stakes sweeps and meet titles abound. With talented jockeys across the country winning one, two, even three stakes, John Velazquez stood out to voters with a remarkable four stakes wins last week. Velazquez led all North American jockeys by stakes earnings, was second by total earnings, and was third by total number of wins for last week.
Velazquez began his week with a win by a neck in the $100,000 Better Talk Now Stakes on Monday, August 28, with Hieroglyphics ($17.40) for Todd Pletcher and Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners. He returned on Thursday to take the $100,000 P.G. Johnson Stakes in a commanding victory aboard Orbulation ($3.50) for Pletcher and StarLadies Racing.
The second half of Velazquez’ stakes wins came in a pair of graded events over the weekend. He and Harmonize ($9.40) won the $200,000 Glens Falls Stakes (G3) on Saturday by a neck for Bill Mott and Larkin Armstrong. He capped off his stakes run on Sunday with the $250,000 Prioress Stakes (G2), in which he guided Vertical Oak ($11.40) to a five-length victory for Steve Asmussen and Judy and J. Kirk Robison.
In addition to his four wins in 10 stakes starts, Velazquez and Rally Cry finished second to Florent Geroux and Gun Runner in the $750,000 Woodward Stakes (G1) on Saturday and was third aboard Delta Prince in the $250,000 Bernard Baruch (G2) on Monday.
Velazquez led all North American jockeys by stakes earnings with $594,334 and was second by total earnings, with $948,514 in 37 starts. He had 11 wins, three second-place finishes, and one third-place finish, for a win rate of 30% and an in-the-money rate of 41%.
He currently sits in fourth place by earnings among all North American jockeys in 2017 with $14,718,543 in 647 starts. Over the course of his career, he has won 5,783 races and amassed earnings of $370,838,298.
The Puerto Rican native began his United States career in 1990 and won his first stakes race at Aqueduct soon after. In 1995, he won his first Grade 1 Stakes race at Belmont and won his first of many riding titles at Saratoga the following year. He was twice named the Eclipse Award winner for Outstanding Jockey in 2004 and 2005, and was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 2012.
Due to holiday racing schedules over Labor Day weekend, the statistics used for the Jockey of the Week ballot spanned Monday, August 28, through Monday, September 4, 2017.