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  • John Velazquez The Jockey Aiming To Break Preakness Duck With Medina Spirit

John Velazquez - The jockey aiming to break Preakness duck with Medina Spirit

When Medina Spirit crossed the line as winner of the 147th Kentucky Derby, it was the fourth victory in the Run for the Roses and sixth in a Triple Crown race for Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez.

The 49-year-old from Puerto Rico is the all-time leader in earnings among North American jockeys with $435,749,671 and was the winner of the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey in 2004 and 2005, leading all riders in earnings for both of those years.

Velazquez had an up and down day at Churchill Downs on Saturday, sandwiching three 11th-place finishes between wins for trainer Bob Baffert in the Derby City Distaff Stakes aboard Gamine and his victory in the Derby. The previous day he had guided the undefeated three-year-old filly Malathaat to victory in the Kentucky Oaks for trainer Todd Pletcher.

John Velazquez: Track hopper

The veteran takes mounts at tracks from coast to coast, with races under his belt at several locations already in 2021. Most of his activity has been at Gulfstream Park, where he ranked 14th in the winter meet that went from December 20 to March 28. He had 11 wins from 106 starts, while his horses picked up $831,576 in earnings.
His most efficient efforts have been at Santa Anita Park, where Velazquez has only ridden in 36 races, but his mounts have earned $924,988 in the current meet that began on December 26. Much of that success is due to Gamine and Medina Spirit, both of whom he rode to high finishes in graded stakes races.
In addition to his Triple Crown Series accomplishments, Velazquez also has 18 victories in the Breeders' Cup Series dating back to 1998. In September 2019 at Santa Anita, he became the all-time leader in graded stakes victories with 660 and has been adding to that total ever since, with the Kentucky Derby becoming his 689th win.

John Velazquez's career stats

Overall, John Velazquez has started 34,571 races. He has secured 6,289 wins, placing 15th in all-time victories, along with 5,070 runner-up finishes and 4,533 third-place results. His winning percentage is at 18% and Velazquez's rate of running in the money is 46%.

Despite his storied career, Velazquez has yet to ride a horse to victory in the Preakness Stakes. He has three runner-up finishes in the second jewel of the Triple Crown, most recently last year aboard the favourite, Authentic. He also has a pair of Belmont Stakes wins, but hasn't been able to get the job done at Pimlico Race Course.

Where Medina Spirit starts in the May 15 Preakness Stakes and the size of the field may have major impacts on Velazquez's ability to keep alive Bob Baffert's chances for a third Triple Crown winner in the past seven years. Even though Medina Spirit has only been passed briefly once in his career, and that was down the stretch in the Kentucky Derby, it remains to be seen if he can run down the leaders if he gets caught in traffic out of the starting gate.

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