Eclipse Award winning jockey John Velazquez is not only one of the nation’s leading riders, he’s also Chairman of the Jockeys’ Guild Board of Directors.
A native of Puerto Rico, Velazquez won the 2009 Florida Derby (G1) and 2010 Donn Handicap (G1) with Quality Road and the 2010 Fountain of Youth (G2) with Eskendereya. Represented by agent and Hall of Fame jockey Angel Cordero, Velazquez also is the regular rider of Mike Repole’s undefeated Uncle Mo, the early favorite for the 2011 Kentucky Derby (G1).
Married with two children, Velazquez will keep fans up-to-date by occasionally blogging throughout the Gulfstream season. On Saturday, Velazquez will be aboard Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) runnerup Morning Line in the $100,000 Hal’s Hope (G3).
Every day I look at the Racing Form.
I study the Form before I get here in the morning. I spend about an hour looking at the races I’m going to ride, the competition I’m going to face, to prepare myself. Then when I get to the track I look at the scratches and then go over the same things I did earlier in the morning to see what differences there are with the scratches. I just want to prepare myself mentally for how the day is going to be.
The whole thing is to try and figure out what’s best for my horses in each particular race and figure out the competition. I want to know where I’d like to be. Of course, I also have to follow instructions from the trainers.
I watch all the races beginning with the first to see how the track is playing. That’s another thing you have to do during the day, because you may have to change a little bit here and there with what you want to do because sometimes it depends on how the track is playing.
When the dirt track is drying out sometimes it can be a little hard. It can be tough. The horses get most of it. We can hide a little bit, especially if you have a horse that runs with his head up. But when it’s really hard, it hits your arms…it hurts. It stings, trust me. It’s like pebbles coming back at you. That’s why you like to keep the track a little moist. But, hey, it’s part of the job. Some horses don’t mind so much getting hit with the dirt, others don’t run through it at all so you have to take them outside. It’s different with all of them.
I’m riding Monday then going to the Eclipse Awards in Miami. I’m one of three finalists for leading rider. Hopefully, I’ll win. But I don’t think I’ll win. I’ll bring a few friends and enjoy the ceremony and see a lot of people in the sport. I like to be involved in the ceremony and, like I said, hopefully I’ll win. If I don’t, the two other finalists are very deserving. They had a great year.