John Velazquez

Jockeys Pledge Support to Injured Rider Vinnie Bednar

Jockeys Javier Castellano, Mike Smith, John Velazquez, Manuel Franco and Tyler Gaffalione have pledged a percentage of their earnings from the GI Kentucky Oaks and GI Kentucky Derby race cards to help rider 28-year-old rider Vinnie Bednar, who suffered a catastrophic fall at Los Alamitos Racetrack Aug. 22. Bednar is currently experiencing lower-limb paralysis following initial surgery at USC Medical Center in Los Angeles. He remains hospitalized while awaiting transfer to the Craig Hospital in Englewood, Colorado, a world-renowned, premier center for spinal and brain injury. The accident occurred in...

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Churchill May Require Derby Jockeys to be in Kentucky by Aug. 24

Churchill Downs may require all jockeys riding during the short meet surrounding the GI Kentucky Derby to be in the state of Kentucky by Aug. 24. Churchill Downs Senior Director, Communication & Media Services Darren Rogers said the rule is being considered but no official decision will be announced until later in week. Rogers added that Churchill is also expected to announce shortly a complete list of protocols that will be in place for the Derby, including how many fans will be allowed to attend the race. For jockeys who...

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Code of Honor, Midnight Bisou Breeze Towards Weekend Stakes

Will Farish's Code of Honor (Noble Mission {GB}) breezed a half-mile in :49.04 (XBTV video) at 5:30 Monday morning over the Oklahoma training track at Saratoga, completing his preparations for Saturday's GI Whitney S. The nine-furlong event offers the winner a fees-paid berth in the GI Breeders' Cup Classic at Keeneland Nov. 7. Working beneath his regular exercise rider Lexi Peaden, last year's GI Runhappy Travers S. hero went his opening quarter in :25.1 and galloped out five-eighths of a mile in 1:01.2 to the satisfaction of Hall of Fame...

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Op/Ed: Churchill Must Make Tough Call and Limit Derby to Local Jockeys

With Saratoga, Del Mar and a number of other tracks effectively eliminating jockeys from coming and going due to fears they will spread the coronavirus, attention now turns to Churchill Downs and the GI Kentucky Derby. Churchill Downs President Kevin Flannery and his team are no doubt mulling whether or not they will put similar restrictions in place, effectively allowing only Kentucky-based riders to compete during the five days of racing. It's not exactly an easy call, but their number one priority has to be safety. And that means following...

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Keeneland and Maker’s Mark Team up to Help Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund

Keeneland and Maker's Mark have announced the 2020 Maker's Mark commemorative bottle, with all proceeds to benefit the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund (PDJF), an independent charitable organization that provides financial assistance to jockeys who have sustained debilitating on-track injuries. Each Maker's Mark bottle has been signed by the five leading active stakes-winning riders at Keeneland--Julien Leparoux, Robby Albarado, John Velazquez, Javier Castellano and Mike Smith--in addition to Maker's Mark Managing Director Rob Samuels and Keeneland President and CEO Bill Thomason. The bottle goes on sale July 3 in limited quantities...

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Tap It to Win Living Up to Casse’s Expectations

Even back when Tap It to Win (Tapit) lost the GI Clairborne Breeders' Futurity by 43 1/2 lengths and the Street Sense S. by 21 1/4 lengths, Mark Casse was telling owner Charlotte Weber and anyone else who would listen that the horse was special. On Saturday, the trainer could be proven right. After some twists and turns in his 2-year-old year, Tap It to Win has won his only two starts this year and doesn't look to be in over his head in Saturday's GI Belmont S., this year's...

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Jockeys’ Guild Issues Statement on CA Whip Rules

Jockeys' Guild co-chairmen John Velazquez and Mike Smith and CEO Terence Meyocks issued the following statement Friday in response to the California Horse Racing Board passing more restrictive whip rules Thursday: The Jockeys' Guild is extremely disappointed by the actions taken by the California Horse Racing Board with regards to the riding crop. Specifically restricting the use of the riding crop to six times in the underhanded fashion throughout the entire race, as well as restricting the type of riding crop that can be used. The industry has a long...

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Brain Injuries Awareness Day Mar. 7

In support of the Brain Injury Association of America's "Brain Injury Awareness" month, jockeys across the country will be wearing blue arm bands emblazoned with "Brain Injury Awareness" Saturday, Mar. 7. "As Saturday is an important day in racing, with major stakes races across the country, it seemed a perfect time to heighten awareness of brain injuries and head trauma suffered by jockeys," said Terry Meyocks, President and CEO of the Jockeys' Guild. "Just this week, a jockey died from a head injury suffered during a race. It is a...

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Honor Code Firster Runs to the Money at Gulfstream

4th-Gulfstream, $43,000, Msw, 1-25, 3yo, 7f, 1:24.13, ft. MARKET ANALYSIS (c, 3, Honor Code--Interest Free {MSP, $195,682}, by Exchange Rate), favored at 6-5 in this career bow, broke alertly from post 10 and moved up to stalk from third through a :22.44 first quarter. Creeping up closer to the pacsetter as the half went in :45.53, the gray took control at the top of the lane and held off a strong late rally from Attachment Rate (Hard Spun) to win by 3/4 of a length. The winner is the first...

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Seven-Figure Curlin Filly Romps to Rising Stardom at Gulfstream

Spice Is Nice (Curlin) turned heads when hammering for $1.05 million at Keeneland September back in 2018, and turned many more Sunday at Gulfstream when running away to a double-digit debut graduation and 'TDN Rising Star' honors. Drilling steadily at Belmont until late November, the chestnut missed a few weeks of breezes, but got right back to task with a half-mile bullet in :48 4/5 (1/5) Dec. 20 at Palm Beach Downs before recording a sharp five-furlong move in 1:00 1/5 (3/22) there nine days later. Hammered early in the...

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Speed to Spare at The Shore

Maximum Security (New Year's Day) faces a speed-laden field of six foes as he looks to bounce back in Saturday's GI TVG.com Haskell Invitational S. at Monmouth Park, which carries a "Win and You're In" berth to this year's GI Breeders' Cup Classic. The saga the Gary and Mary West homebred has been embroiled in is well documented--a controversial DQ from first to 17th in the GI Kentucky Derby led to plenty of debate, and litigation, and the GI Xpressbet Florida Derby winner skipped the next two legs of the...

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