Ralph P. Neves was an American Hall of Fame jockey in Thoroughbred horse racing. Born in Cape Cod, Neves won 3,772 races, including 173 stakes, was elected to the Racing Hall of Fame in 1960, his long career was interrupted only by several injuries and service in the United States Army Cavalry during World War II. He retired in 1964. In the early part of his career Neves rode at Santa Anita Longacres Racetrack. By the mid-1930s, he was considered one of the top west coast riders, known for his cocky self-confidence, he is best known for an incident at Bay Meadows Racetrack in San Mateo, California on May 8, 1936. After being thrown from his horse, Flannikins, he was pronounced dead due to heart failure after a hasty examination and sent to the local hospital, where the track physician administered a shot of adrenaline to the heart. Neves made it back to the racetrack and demanded to be allowed to ride the rest of his mounts that day; the story has been told many times since, familiar to many jockeys, as a result has gathered a number of variations.
Two different doctors have been said to have given the key injection in two different places, Neves' Hall of Fame plaque states incorrectly that he won five races the following day. Instead, Neves would go on to ride four winning horses on May 14; the incident was covered extensively in local newspapers at the time. Neves suffered several more injuries in falls, including vision problems, required brain surgery in 1959. Still known for his individualistic style, he was suspended throughout his career, including a five-day suspension for "careless riding" in 1961, after his Hall of Fame induction. Among his other accomplishments, Ralph Neves rode six winners on October 24, 1961 at Bay Meadows Racetrack. In 1954 he was voted the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award. In addition to his induction in the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, he was elected to the Washington Racing Hall of Fame. At the time of his retirement in mid-1963 he was one of only eight riders with at least 3000 wins. Ralph Neves was living in San Marcos, California at the time of his death in 1995.
He was survived by his ex-wife, Midge Neves, their three children, Gary and Cathy. List of premature obituaries Career National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. Bay Meadows Racetrack official website history - The death and resurrection of Ralph Neves Tougaw, Jason; the One You Get: Portrait of a Family Organism
Seabiscuit was a champion thoroughbred racehorse in the United States who became the top money winning racehorse up to the 1940s, as noted in films and books. He beat the 1937 Triple-Crown winner, War Admiral, by 4 lengths in a 2-horse special at Pimlico, was voted American Horse of the Year for 1938. A small horse, Seabiscuit had an inauspicious start to his racing career, winning only a fourth of his first 40 races, but became an unlikely champion and a symbol of hope to many Americans during the Great Depression. Seabiscuit has been the subject of numerous books and films, including Seabiscuit: the Lost Documentary. Seabiscuit was foaled in Lexington, Kentucky, on May 23, 1933, from the mare Swing On and sire Hard Tack, a son of Man o' War. Seabiscuit was named for his father, as hardtack or "sea biscuit" is the name for a type of cracker eaten by sailors; the bay colt grew up on Claiborne Farm in Paris, where he was trained. He was undersized, knobby-kneed, given to sleeping and eating for long periods.
Seabiscuit was owned by the powerful Wheatley Stable and trained by "Sunny Jim" Fitzsimmons, who had taken Gallant Fox to the United States Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing. Fitzsimmons felt the horse was too lazy. Fitzsimmons devoted most of his time to training Omaha. Seabiscuit was relegated to a heavy schedule of smaller races, he failed to win his first 17 races finishing back in the field. After that, Fitzsimmons did not spend much time on him, the horse was sometimes the butt of stable jokes. Seabiscuit began to gain attention after winning two races at Narragansett Park and setting a new track record in the second - a Claiming Stakes race; as a two-year-old, Seabiscuit raced 35 times, coming in first five times and finishing second seven times. These included three claiming races, in which he could have been purchased for $2,500, but he had no takers. While Seabiscuit had not lived up to his racing potential, he was not the poor performer Fitzsimmons had taken him for, his last two wins as a two-year-old came in minor stakes races.
The next season, started with a similar pattern. The colt ran 12 times in less than four months. One of those races was a cheap allowance race on the "sweltering afternoon of June 29," 1936, at Suffolk Downs; that was. His owners sold the horse to automobile entrepreneur Charles S. Howard for $8,000 at Saratoga, in August. Howard assigned Seabiscuit to a new trainer, Tom Smith, with his unorthodox training methods brought Seabiscuit out of his lethargy. Smith paired the horse with Canadian jockey Red Pollard, who had experience racing in the West and in Mexico. On August 22, 1936, they raced Seabiscuit for the first time. Improvements came and in their remaining eight races in the East and Pollard won several times, including the Detroit Governor's Handicap and the Scarsdale Handicap at Empire City Race Track in Yonkers, New York. In early November 1936, Howard and Smith shipped the horse to California by rail, his last two races of the year were at Bay Meadows racetrack in California. The first was the $2,700 Bay Bridge Handicap, run over one-mile.
Despite starting badly and carrying the top weight of 116 pounds, Seabiscuit won by five lengths. At the World's Fair Handicap, Seabiscuit led throughout. In 1937, the Santa Anita Handicap, California's most prestigious race, was worth over $125,000 to the winner. In his first warm-up race at Santa Anita Park, Seabiscuit won easily. In his second race of 1937, the San Antonio Handicap, he suffered a setback after he was bumped at the start and pushed wide; the two met again in the Santa Anita Handicap a week where Rosemont won by a nose. The defeat was devastating to Smith and Howard, was attributed in the press to a jockey error. Pollard, who had not seen Rosemont over his shoulder until too late, was blind in one eye due to an accident during a training ride, a fact he had hidden throughout his career. Seabiscuit was becoming a favorite among California racing fans, his fame spread as he won his next three races. With his successes, Howard decided to ship the horse east for its more prestigious racing circuit.
Seabiscuit's run of victories continued. Between June 26 and August 7, he ran five times, each time in a stakes race, each time he won under increasing handicap weights of up to 130 pounds. On September 11, Smith accepted an impost of 132 pounds for the Narragansett Special at Narragansett Park. On race day, the ground was slow and heavy, unsuited to "the Biscuit", carrying the heaviest burden of his career. Smith wanted to scratch. Never in the running, Seabiscuit finished third, his winning streak was snapped. In 1937, Seabiscuit won 11 of his 15 races and was the year's leading money winner in the United States. War Admiral, having won the Triple Crown that season, was voted the most prestigious honor, the American Horse of the Year Award. In 1938, as a five-year-old, Seabiscuit's success continued
Ramón A. Domínguez is a retired Eclipse Award-winning champion jockey in American Thoroughbred horse racing. Domínguez began riding horses at age 16 in his native Venezuela in show jumping turned to riding thoroughbreds in flat racing events at La Rinconada Hippodrome, he emigrated to the United States where he began riding at Florida's Hialeah Park Race Track in 1996. In 2001 he got his big break by becoming the winningest jockey in the United States, he repeated the feat in 2003, in 2004 he won the Isaac Murphy Award for having the highest winning percentage among all American-based jockeys. Domínguez was the regular rider of two-time Eclipse Award-winning turf champion Gio Ponti, whom he has ridden to victories in six Grade One stakes races including Belmont Park's Man o' War Stakes twice, as well as the Arlington Million, Frank E. Kilroe Mile Handicap and Shadwell Turf Mile Stakes twice, his first win in the Breeders' Cup came in 2004 when he rode Better Talk Now to victory in the Breeders' Cup Turf.
Domínguez has won six races in a day on three occasions, most on July 22, 2012 when he rode six winners from seven mounts at Saratoga Race Course tying the same day win record by a jockey among all New York tracks. He is the second jockey in Saratoga's history to win six races on a single race card, he has won five races in a day on several occasions at Aqueduct Racetrack, most on February 17, 2010 when he won the first five races on the card. In 2012 Dominguez topped the New York Racing Association riding circuit for the fourth straight year with 322 victories, was the winner of the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award, bestowed by his peers for excellent conduct and given by Santa Anita Park. Domínguez is the recipient of the 2010, 2011, 2012 Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey. In 2012 set a new mark for single-season earnings by a jockey, when his mounts brought home $25,582,252 to shatter the 2003 bar of $23,354,960 set by Hall of Famer Jerry Bailey. On June 13, 2013, Dominguez announced his retirement due to head injuries suffered in a fall at Aqueduct Racetrack on January 18, 2013.
On April 25, 2016, Dominguez's induction into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame was announced. Ramon A. Dominguez Official Website Ramon A. Dominguez at the NTRA
Santa Anita Park
Santa Anita Park is a Thoroughbred racetrack in Arcadia, United States. It offers some of the prominent horse racing events in the United States during the winter and in spring; the track is home to numerous prestigious races including both the Santa Anita Derby and the Santa Anita Handicap as well as hosting the Breeders' Cup in 1986, 1993, 2003, 2008, 2009, from 2012 to 2014, plus 2016. In 2011, Santa Anita's ownership was moved to The Stronach Group. Frank Mirahmadi is the current track commentator. Santa Anita Park was part of "Rancho Santa Anita,", owned by former San Gabriel Mission Mayor-Domo, Claudio Lopez, named after a family member, "Anita Cota." The ranch was acquired by rancher Hugo Reid, a Scotsman. It was owned by multimillionaire horse breeder and racer Lucky Baldwin. Baldwin built a racetrack adjacent to the present site in what is today Arcadia, outside of the city of Los Angeles, in 1904, it closed in 1909 and burned down in 1912. In 1933, California legalized parimutuel wagering and several investor groups worked to open racetracks.
In the San Francisco area, a group headed by Dr. Charles H "Doc" Strub was having trouble locating a site. In the Los Angeles area, a group headed by movie producer Hal Roach was in need of further funds; these two groups combined and the newly formed Los Angeles Turf Club opened the present day track on Christmas Day in 1934, making it the first formally-established racetrack in California. Architect Gordon Kaufmann designed its various buildings in a combination of Colonial Revival and a type of art deco known as Streamline Modern, painted in Santa Anita's signature colors of Persian Green and Chiffon Yellow. In February 1935, the first Santa Anita Handicap was run; the race's $100,000 purse, largest of any race in the United States until that time, produced its nickname the Big'Cap. In its heyday, the track's races attracted such stars Betty Grable, Lana Turner, Edgar Bergen, Jane Russell, Cary Grant, Esther Williams, other stars. Bing Crosby, Joe E. Brown, Al Jolson, Harry Warner were all stockholders.
In 1940, Seabiscuit won the Santa Anita Handicap in his last start. In 1942, racing at Santa Anita was suspended due to the Second World War. Santa Anita was used as an "assembly center" for Japanese Americans excluded from the West Coast. For several months in 1942, over 18,000 people lived in horse stables and military-style barracks constructed on the site, including actor George Takei a young boy. After the track reopened in 1945, it went through the postwar years with prosperity. A downhill turf course, which added a distinctly European flair to racing at Santa Anita, was added in 1953. Due to its proximity to Los Angeles, Santa Anita has traditionally been associated with the film and television industries; the racetrack sequences in the Marx Brothers 1937 classic A Day at the Races were filmed there, The Story of Seabiscuit with Shirley Temple was filmed on location in 1949. It was featured in A Star Is Born. Several stars, including Bing Crosby, Spencer Tracy, Errol Flynn, Alex Trebek, MGM mogul, Louis B.
Mayer, have owned horses. The 1958 Santa Anita Derby was attended by 61,123 people, making the attendance that day a record crowd, they had come to watch Silky Sullivan win -- going away. The 1960s brought about a major renovation of Santa Anita Park, including a much-expanded grandstand as well as major seating additions. In 1968, Del Mar Racetrack relinquished its dates for a fall meeting. A group of horsemen including Clement Hirsch intervened and established the not-for-profit Oak Tree Racing Association. Oak Tree had no facilities of its own and rented Santa Anita Park for its first autumn meeting in 1969; the Oak Tree Association became. This meet ran from the end of September until early November. Many key stakes races were held during the Oak Tree Meeting, including many preps to the Breeders' Cup races; the Oak Tree meet relocated to Hollywood Park for 2010 but the California Horse Racing Board awarded the fall dates to Santa Anita in its own right in 2011. This prompted a renaming of many stakes races held at the fall meeting that were associated with Oak Tree.
For example, the Norfolk, Yellow Ribbon, Lady's Secret, Oak Leaf, were renamed at the FrontRunner, Awesome Again, Rodeo Drive and Chandelier respectively. Prosperity continued at Santa Anita throughout the 1980s. In 1984, Santa Anita was the site of equestrian events at the 1984 Olympics; the following year, the track set an attendance record of 85,527 people on Santa Anita Handicap Day. However, recognizing the potential revenue boon to the State of California, the California Legislature expanded off track betting, bring operating betting parlors within closer driving distance of the race-day tracks. While the Santa Anita meeting could still draw large crowds, attendance had decreased by a third. Only 56,810 people were at the park for Santa Anita Derby Day 2007 to witness a Grade I event. In 1997, Santa Anita Park was acquired by Meditrust when it purchased the Santa Anita Companies for its unique real estate investment trust paired share corporate structure. Following the elimination of the special tax treatment accorded Pair Share REITs, Meditrust sold the track to Magna Entertainment Corp.
In 2006, Gulfstream Park and Santa Anita cohosted the Sunshine Millions, a day of competition with $3.6 million in stakes races between horses bred in the State of Florida and those bred in the State of California. At Santa Anita standardbred racing was conducted. At Santa Anita Park's European-style paddock there are statues of jockeys George Woolf, Johnny Longden, Bi
Gary Stevens (jockey)
Gary Lynn Stevens is an American Thoroughbred horse racing jockey and sports analyst. He became a professional jockey in 1979 and rode his first of three Kentucky Derby winners in 1988; as of 2014, he has won the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes three times each, as well as 10 Breeders' Cup races and is a nine-time winner of the Santa Anita Derby. He entered the United States Racing Hall of Fame in 1997. Combining his U. S. and international wins, Stevens had over 5,000 race wins by 2005, reached his 5,000 North American win on February 15, 2015. His career successes were intertwined with significant injuries and periods of temporary retirement due to knee problems from 1999 until 2000, again from 2005 to 2013, he had an acting role in the 2003 film Seabiscuit. After his second retirement from riding in 2005, he worked for TVG and HRTV and NBC Sports as a horse racing analyst for seven years, had a brief stint as a race horse trainer, took a few other acting roles, notably in the TV series Luck, before coming out of retirement again in 2013.
In the 2013 season, he won 69 of 383 races and finished the year 12th in the nation in purse earnings, winning a number of significant races including the 2013 Preakness Stakes, the Breeders' Cup Distaff and the Breeders' Cup Classic. In 2014, he rode in the first half of the year, but his knee problems became too severe to continue riding, in July he announced a "break" in order to get a total knee replacement, he returned to riding by mid-October 2014, accepted mounts for the 2014 Breeders' Cup, rode a winning race by mid-November 2014. Following the 2016 Breeders' Cup, he again took time off, this time for a hip replacement, returning to racing in March 2017. Due to his multiple joint replacements, "The Bionic Man" became one of his nicknames. Stevens was born in Caldwell, the youngest of three sons born to Ron and Barbara Stevens. Ron was a race horse trainer who worked with both American Quarter Horses. Stevens grew up around horses and first rode when he was three years old, assisted by his mother, a rodeo queen.
As a seven-year-old child, Stevens had to wear a brace for 19 months due to a degenerative disease of the hip, Perthes syndrome. He began helping his father as a horse groom at the age of eight. In high school, Stevens was a wrestler with potential to obtain college athletic scholarships. However, he dropped out of school in 1979 to pursue a career as a jockey. Stevens has been married three times and has five children, four from his first marriage and one from his third, he became a grandfather in 2012. One of his older brothers, became a professional jockey, at age 12 Stevens had decided to do the same. By the time he was 14, he was riding American Quarter Horses at small "bush" tracks. At age 16 he switched to Thoroughbreds, at 17 won his first race at Les Bois Park, in Boise, Idaho on Little Star, a horse trained by his father. After leaving high school, he spent four months in southern California working for horse trainer Chuck Taliaferro, who had helped develop other young jockeys, including Steve Cauthen and Cash Asmussen.
He returned to Boise for about a year rode from 1981 to 1982 at Portland Meadows, where he won two awards for his race riding. He went on to Longacres, near Seattle, Washington from 1982 through 1984, where he won 524 times, including a number of graded stakes races, broke numerous riding records and was the leading rider two years in a row. Returning to Southern California in 1984, he began winning Grade I races and rode his first Kentucky Derby on Tank's Prospect in 1985. Stevens' first win in a Triple Crown race was the 1988 Kentucky Derby on the filly Winning Colors, he went on to win the Kentucky Derby again in 1995 and 1997, the Preakness Stakes in 1997, 2001 and 2013, Belmont Stakes in 1995, 1998 and 2001. He fell short of winning the Triple Crown in 1997 when he won the Derby and Preakness with Silver Charm but came in second in the Belmont; the following year, he picked up his second Belmont win on Victory Gallop, in turn denying a Triple Crown to Real Quiet. In 1993 he became the youngest jockey in history to surpass the $100 million earnings mark and was the fourth youngest jockey to be inducted into the Horse Racing Hall of Fame when he was given that honor in 1997.
He won the Santa Anita Derby nine times, won eleven Breeders' Cup races, making him the seventh-leading money winner in Breeders' Cup history as of 2014. At the time of his 2005 temporary retirement, his mounts had collected over $221 million with 4,888 winners in North America, ranking Stevens fifth in all-time winnings at the time, he had over 5,000 wins in 2005 when including overseas victories, including 49 wins in the UK, 55 races in France, 20 victories in Hong Kong. Stevens considers his 5,000th win to have been in the Gaviola Stakes on October 30, 2005. Coming back in 2013, he won the Preakness Stakes on Oxbow and added additional wins to his lifetime total, including an international victory in the Shergar Cup at Ascot Racecourse that raised his total win record in the United Kingdom to 50. By 2014, his earnings stood at $236,951,490 and his North American wins were at 4,988; as of 2015 he had 139 international wins in six nations in addition to his North American records. He reached his official 5,000th North American win at Santa Anita Park on February 13, 2015 on a horse named Catch a Flight, trained by Richard Mandella.
He retired from racing for ten months in 1999–2000 due to knee problems, but returned after a rest and credited what was his first comeback to the use of nutraceutical supplements containing glucosamine and chondroitin. In 2002, Stevens wrote a book about his life up to that point titled The Perfect Ride. Hall of Fame sportscaster Jack Whitaker described it as: "a great
Calvin H. Borel is an American jockey in thoroughbred horse racing and rode the victorious mount in the 2007 Kentucky Derby, the 2009 Kentucky Derby and the 2010 Kentucky Derby, his 2009 Derby win with Mine That Bird was the second biggest upset in Derby history, Borel's winning margin of 6 3⁄4 lengths was the greatest in Derby history since Assault won by 8 lengths in 1946. On May 1, 2009, Borel won the Kentucky Oaks aboard Rachel Alexandra, only the second time since 1993 that a jockey has won the Oaks-Derby combo, just the seventh time overall a jockey has accomplished this feat in the same year. On May 16, 2009, Borel won the 2009 Preakness Stakes at Pimlico with thoroughbred filly Rachel Alexandra. In doing so, Borel became the first jockey to win the first two jewels of the Triple Crown on different mounts. Borel's nickname is "Bo'rail'" due to his penchant for riding close to the rail to save ground. Calvin Borel hails from south Louisiana: the heart of Cajun Country, famous for having produced a number of top jockeys.
Like Randy Romero, Kent Desormeaux, Eddie Delahoussaye and Shane Sellers. Borel began racing horses in the bush tracks near his hometown of Catahoula and started riding in match races at the age of eight, he is known for his Cajun accent and bubbly and emotional personality, both of which were on full display during his post-victory interview after all three of his Kentucky Derby wins. Borel's older brother, had a brief career as a thoroughbred jockey but was not able to maintain his weight, he turned to training horses at Delta Downs in Louisiana. Calvin began his professional riding career at Delta Downs. Over a career that has spanned 25 years, Borel has become known for his tireless work ethic as well as an ability to slip up the rail to save ground. Borel is 5 ft 4 in and 116 pounds, he lives in Kentucky. His riding career began to surge in June 2006 when he won the $750,000 Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs with 91–1 longshot Seek Gold, getting up in the final stride to win by a nose over Perfect Drift and paying $185.40 to win.
That year was his big break when he won his first Breeders' Cup on Street Sense in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. Borel won the 2007 Kentucky Derby aboard Street Sense, guiding the colt to a 2 1⁄4 length victory over Hard Spun, he next had a close second-place finish aboard Street Sense in the Preakness Stakes to Curlin. On July 5, 2007, Borel became the sixth jockey in the history of Churchill Downs to win six races on a single race card. With his victory in the July 5, 2008 Bashford Manor Stakes, he became the thirty-fourth jockey in North American Thoroughbred racing history to win 4,500 races. May 2, 2009, saw Borel win the Kentucky Derby on Mine That Bird, a 50–1 long shot, a day after winning the Kentucky Oaks aboard favorite Rachel Alexandra, it was only the second time since 1993 that a jockey has won the Oaks-Derby combo, he was just the seventh jockey overall to accomplish this feat in the same year. On May 16, 2009, Borel won the Preakness Stakes on Rachel Alexandra; this accomplishment marked the first time that a jockey won the first two legs of the Triple Crown on different horses, Borel, with a win in the Belmont, could become the first Triple Crown winner since Steve Cauthen accomplished it in 1978 on Affirmed.
A win would have made him only the second individual to win the Triple Crown by sweeping the races with different horses. However, on June 6, 2009, Borel finished 3rd on Mine That Bird in the Belmont Stakes, failing to accomplish a jockey Triple Crown. On June 27, 2009, he guided Rachel Alexandra to a 19 1⁄4 victory in the Mother Goose Stakes at Belmont Park, setting a new stakes record, the only horse to break a record held by the great filly Ruffian. Borel rode her to a six-length victory over Belmont Stakes winner Summer Bird in the Haskell Invitational. On September 5 of the same year, he rode Rachel Alexandra to a historic victory in the Woodward Stakes, it was the first time. Borel was named the winner of the 2010 George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award. On May 1, 2010, he rode Super Saver to win his 3rd Kentucky Derby in a 4-year span, the first jockey to do so. After winning the race, Borel promised that he would win the Triple Crown in 2010, but he lost the Preakness. On June 4, 2010, Borel became only the second jockey to win 1,000 career races at Churchill Downs, joining Hall of Famer Pat Day.
On August 20, 2011, Borel was arrested in Evansville, Indiana for driving while intoxicated. On March 7, 2013, Borel earned his 5000th victory at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas while riding Hezunusual in the 6th race, he dedicated the win to his agent of over 20 years, Jerry Hissam who retired that year due to chronic pancreas issues after undergoing gall bladder surgery. Borel is the 26th North American jockey to reach 5000 victories. Borel played himself in the 2014 feature film 50 to 1, about Mine that Bird's 2009 Kentucky Derby win. On March 30, 2016, Borel announced. However, on August 15, he came out of retirement. Delta Downs Louisiana Downs Oaklawn Park Ellis Park Churchill Downs Fall meet, Spring meet Turfway Park Kentucky Downs Calvin Borel's Derby win featured inside and on the cover of Stride Magazine Athlete Chat: Calvin Borel Interview after 2009 Kentucky Derby Calvin Borel profile at the NTRA Calvin Borel is interviewed about his Career, 2009 Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks wins Equibase.com
John R. Velazquez
John R. Velazquez is an American jockey in Thoroughbred horse racing. Born in Puerto Rico, where he began his career as a jockey, he came to the mainland US in 1990. In 2004 and 2005 he was the United States Champion Jockey by earnings and both years was given the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey, he was inducted into the Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 2012, rode his 5,000th winner in 2013, became the leading money-earning jockey in the history of the sport in 2014. A winner of fifteen Breeders' Cup and four Triple Crown races including the 2011 and 2017 Kentucky Derby, Velázquez has won major graded stakes races such as the Kentucky Oaks, Metropolitan Handicap, Whitney Handicap, Dubai World Cup and Woodbine Mile. Velazquez was born in Carolina, Puerto Rico and learned to ride there, attending a jockey school for a year and a half. On January 3, 1990, he won his first race, aboard Rodas at El Nuevo Comandante racetrack in Canóvanas, Puerto Rico; that same year, he moved to New York State and obtained guidance from leading jockey Angel Cordero Jr. Richie Allen was his first agent, followed in 1992 by Ralph Theroux.
Velazquez lived with Cordero and said that he learned to speak English by watching The Little Mermaid with Cordero's daughter for 2 1⁄2 months. In 1998, Cordero became his agent. "Without Angel, I wouldn't be here," said Velazquez in 2005. "I learned from him, not just about riding, but everything you need to survive. Since I've been here, he's always been behind me 100% when he was still riding."Velazquez is married to Leona O'Brien, the daughter of trainer Leo O'Brien. Residing in New York, they have two children, a daughter, a son, Michael Patrick. Velazquez is the chairman of the board of the Jockeys' Guild and on the board of the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund, he is known for his cool riding manner and "nerves-of-steel". Soon after moving to the United States in 1990, Velazquez won his first stakes race, the Ticonderoga at Aqueduct Racetrack, his first graded stakes win came the next year in the Ohio Derby aboard Private Man. It was not until 1995 that he won his first Grade I stakes race, the Turf Classic Invitational at Belmont.
In 1996, he won his first riding title at Aqueduct and rode his first Eclipse Award winner, Yank's Music, trained by his father-in-law, to Championship Three-Year-Old Filly honors. In 1998, Velazquez won the first of five riding titles at Saratoga; that year, he picked up a ride in the Breeders' Cup Mile on Da Hoss, who had won the 1996 Mile but had only raced once in the intervening years. Da Hoss hit the front of the field with 3⁄16 of a mile to go, but was passed in mid-stretch, he fought back and won by a head. Track announcer Tom Durkin called it "the greatest comeback since Lazarus." It was Velazquez's first Breeders' Cup victory. Velazquez set a Saratoga record with six wins in one day on September 3, 2001. In 2004, Velazquez earned his 3,000th win aboard Runningforpresident on July 29 at Saratoga, the same date that Saratoga was holding "John Velazquez Bobblehead Doll Day", he was the leading rider at the Saratoga meet that year with a record 65 winners. That year, he won the Bill Shoemaker Award for top Breeders' Cup performance by a jockey, winning the Breeders' Cup Distaff with Ashado and the Breeders' Cup Sprint with Speightstown.
He won the Shoemaker Award again in 2011 and 2014. Velazquez finished 2004 with 335 wins from 1,327 races, a "remarkable" win rate of 25%, he was the 2004 leading jockey by earnings in North America and won the 2004 Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey. In 2005, Velazquez broke the national earnings record set in 2003 by Jerry Bailey. Velazquez went on to second Eclipse Award, he won 65 stakes races including champions Ashado and Leroidesanimaux. He won at 15 different tracks in the U. S. Canada and Dubai. On April 20, 2006, Velazquez was injured in a fall at Keeneland racetrack, suffering a fractured shoulder blade, two broken ribs, a bruised sternum and a injured right lung, he was expected to miss five months, but was able to return for the Belmont Stakes in June, in which he finished second. That year, he was elected to the Puerto Rico Horse Racing Hall of Fame. Going into the 2007 Belmont Stakes, Velazquez had been 0 for 21 in American Triple Crown races, he picked up the mount on Rags to Riches at the last moment and rode her for the first time in the Belmont.
Rags to Riches stumbled at the start was taken wide by another horse around the first turn before Velazquez guided her to better position. In a prolonged stretch duel with Curlin, Velazquez hit the filly only twice, for a little additional encouragement, they prevailed by a head. It was the first win for a filly in the Belmont since 1905, it was the first Classic victory for trainer Todd Pletcher, Velazquez's most important client. "There were drinks flying everywhere," said Lauren Robson, the exercise rider of Rags to Riches. "Leona was in tears right away and she put me in tears. It was so great because Todd and Johnny have been together for so long."In 2009, nicknamed "Johnny V", was awarded the Santa Anita George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award by his fellow jockeys in recognition of his career and personal character. At that time, he had earned 24 racing titles at Aqueduct, Belmont Park and Saratoga; that same year, he rode Quality Road to a win at the Florida Derby, knocking off the unbeaten Dunkirk in the process.
He rode Dunkirk to a second-place finish in the Belmont Stakes. On May 7, 2011, Velazquez won his first Kentucky Derby. Velazquez was supposed to ride Uncle Mo, but his horse was scratched from the race due to stoma