John Velazquez won more Breeders’ Cup races than any jockey last week, including the Breeders’ Cup Distaff, on his way to being voted Jockey of the Week for the week ending November 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.
The Breeders’ Cup World Championships descended on Del Mar for the first time in the event’s history, and with it came impressive performances from jockeys and horses from across the country and around the world.
With the best of the best competing in some of the sport’s most prestigious races, most connections could only dream of winning one Breeders’ Cup race. For jockey John Velazquez, that dream was extended to not one, but two Breeders’ Cup victories, and just to make things more interesting, he managed to win four additional stakes races last week.
Velazquez won the feature event of the first day of the Breeders’ Cup, the $2,000,000 Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) with Forever Unbridled ($9.40). Forever Unbridled finished third in last year’s Distaff behind Beholder and Songbirdand was undefeated in her two preps prior to her second attempt in the Distaff.
On Saturday, Velazquez became the only jockey to win two Breeders’ Cup races in the 2017 event with a win on World Approval ($7.40) in the $2,000,000 Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1). The appearance was the gelding’s first in a Breeders’ Cup race, preceded by wins in the Woodbine Mile (G1) and Fourstardave (G1) this fall and summer.
For Velazquez, Breeders’ Cup weekend began on Friday with the $200,000 Marathon Stakes (G2), a former Breeders’ Cup event. Velazquez and Destin ($6.00) sat just off the lead for the duration of the 1 3/4 -mile event before pulling clear of front running Infobedad to win by over a length.
On Saturday, Velazquez won the opening event, the $200,000 Goldikova (G2) aboard Kitten’s Roar ($8.20), the post-time favorite in 14-horse field of fillies and mares honoring the three-time Breeders’ Cup champion mare in a one-mile event on the turf.
Velazquez finished the week with six stakes wins (three times that of any other jockey last week with multiple stakes wins), four of which were graded. Five of the stakes wins came at Del Mar, with the sixth at Aqueduct: the $100,000 Pumpkin Pie Stakes with Lucy N Ethel ($8.90) on Sunday. Earlier on the same card, he placed second with Super Sermon in the $200,000 Nashua (G2).
With his six stakes wins, Velazquez was second by stakes earnings for the week, with $2,712,535 in stakes earnings. He was also second by total earnings among all North American jockeys, earning $2,743,485 in 20 starts. He had six wins, three second-place finishes, and two third-place finishes, for a win rate of 30% and an in-the-money rate of 55%.
Velazquez currently sits in fifth place by earnings among all North American jockeys in 2017 with $19,942,079 in 820 starts. Over the course of his career, he has won 5,815 races and amassed earnings of $376,061,834.
The Puerto Rican native has twice been 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. Earlier this year, Velazquez won the Kentucky Derby aboard Always Dreaming, his second Derby victory (following Animal Kingdom in 2011).