John Velazquez sets graded stakes record at Santa Anita
ARCADIA, Calif. (AP) — Jockey John Velazquez set a record with his 661st career graded stakes victory in the U.S. and Canada on Friday, and added his 662nd three races later.
He won the $300,000 Chandelier Stakes aboard Bast at Santa Anita, snapping a tie with fellow Hall of Famer Jerry Bailey.
It’s the second career mark owned by Bailey that Velazquez has taken down. The Puerto Rico native became the all-time leading rider at Saratoga in 2013 with win No. 694 to break Bailey’s mark.
“This means a lot,” Velazquez said. “Jerry is a guy who I rode with for so many years and have looked up to for so long.”
The New York-based Velazquez was making a rare appearance in Southern California to ride for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert.
“Todd Pletcher is the one who got him all those graded wins,” Baffert said of his fellow trainer. “I just threw him a couple bones.”
Velazquez returned later to ride Eight Rings to a six-length victory in the $300,000 American Pharoah Stakes, named for the 2015 Triple Crown winner trained by Baffert.
Eight Rings, the 6-5 favorite overseen by Baffert, paid $4.40 to win. The 2-year-old colt earned an automatic berth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile race this fall at Santa Anita.
Earlier, Baffert gave Velazquez a leg up on Bast, who rallied to win the Grade 1 Chandelier by a neck and earn an automatic berth in the BC Juvenile Fillies race.
The Chandelier began with 2-year-old filly Leucothea dumping jockey Norberto Arroyo Jr. after leaving the starting gate. The filly ran along the outside rail and grazed two photographers who were shooting the race and didn’t see her charging. Neither was seriously injured.