Cornelio Velasquez, long one of the leading riders on The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) circuit, reached a personal milestone Sunday afternoon at Aqueduct Racetrack when he won race 5 aboard Up in Smoke ($7.30) for his 3,000th North American victory.
"I feel good," said Velasquez, who also won more than 1,000 races in his native Panama before moving his tack to the United States. "I'm very happy to have had a big career and that the trainers have given me a lot of chances. It's like family here at Aqueduct; there's a lot of competition, but I like New York. It's the best."
Following the landmark win, Velasquez, 43, was tied for seventh in the jockey standings at Aqueduct's fall meet with eight winners. Overall, he was third in New York with 169 winners in 2011, including the Grade 2 Go for Wand with Lovely Lil on Friday at Aqueduct Racetrack, the Grade 3 Westchester at Belmont Park on Caixa Eletronica, and the Grade 1 Sword Dancer Invitational with Winchester and the Grade 3 Victory Ride aboard Hot Summer, both at Saratoga Race Course.
Earlier this month, Velasquez won the Grade 2 Breeders' Cup Marathon on November 5 with Afleet Again.
Cornelio Velasquez' big break came in 2003 when he won his first Breeders' Cup on Cajun Beat in the Breeders' Cup Sprint.
Velasquez, who rode his first winner in Panama in 1985, has finished among the top 10 jockeys on the NYRA circuit every year since 2004. In 2007, he won the coveted Saratoga riding title with 44 winners.
In 2010, Velasquez finished fifth in the year-end standings with 110 winners from 757 mounts at Aqueduct Racetrack, Belmont, and Saratoga.
Cornelio H. Velasquez
Cornelio H. Velasquez (born September 28, 1968 in Panama City, Panama) is a jockey in American Thoroughbred horse racing. He was introduced to horse racing at age fifteen by trainer Carlos Salazar Guardia in his native Panama and enrolled in the national jockey school. In his first year of racing he was his country's top apprentice jockey and was the leading rider again in 1994 and 1995.
In 1996 Cornelio Velasquez emigrated to the United States to race at Elmont, New York's Belmont Park. During the ensuing ten years he competed at meets at tracks in Kentucky and Florida, winning several riding titles. His big break came in 2003 when he won his first Breeders' Cup on Cajun Beat in the Breeders' Cup Sprint. A two-time winner of Breeders' Cup races, in 2005 Velasquez rode Closing Argument to a second place finish in the Kentucky Derby and in 2007 is scheduled to compete on the well-regarded colt, Nobiz Like Shobiz.