Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez secured his 2,000th Win at Belmont Park in the 4th race on Friday when riding first-time starter MALATHAAT to a 1 3/4-length Victory for trainer Todd Pletcher and owner Shadwell Stable.
The Win came in a seven-furlong Maiden special weight for juvenile fillies on the fast main track. MALATHAAT paid $3.70.
The 48-year-old Velazquez, was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 2012.
He has Won 6,238 career races and owns seven Belmont riding titles [4 at the spring/summer meet and 3 at the fall meet] to his credit.
“New York has been home to me for 30 years and to put up a number like this is big,” Velazquez said. “I’m so thankful for all the opportunities I’ve been given and this moment is very special.
“Todd [Pletcher] has been my number one supporter over the years and for him to still be giving me these opportunities now is really appreciated,” Velazquez continued. “I really love all the people I work with and all the owners and the whole team behind the scenes.”
In congratulating Velazquez on the accomplishment, Pletcher noted that the three-time Kentucky Derby-Winning jockey is a true professional.
Pletcher said. “It’s a tremendous accomplishment and it speaks volumes about the person he is and the longevity of his career. He’s a great person and just a true professional.”
Velazquez provided some insight on how he’s managed to sustain top-level riding success for decades:
“I take pride in what I do,” Velazquez explained. “I come to work and I want to make sure that I do my homework and do the best that I can. Not only for myself, but for the people that I ride for.”
With 2,000 Wins, Velazquez has obviously had plenty of special moments at Belmont Park. One, however, stands above all others: Riding filly RAGS TO RICHES to a thrilling Win in the 2007 Belmont Stakes.
“RAGS TO RICHES Winning the Belmont is up there. It was my first Win in a Triple Crown race after many years of trying to Win a Triple Crown race,” Velazquez said. “RAGS TO RICHES gave me that first one and took the pressure off my shoulders and it was probably my most memorable Win here at Belmont Park.”
The Daily Racing Blog has always had an affinity for Johnny V, be it for his durability and endurance, or the way he conducts himself on and off the track.
But the lovefest ramped up quite a bit on Travers Day 2019. On that particular Saturday John rode CODE OF HONOR to Victory in the Travers Stakes, which was the last leg of the Empire Pick-6.
DRB had a Winning ticket for the Pick 6 that day, and John Velazquez rode four of the six Winning Horses !