Velazquez sets Saratoga win record

John Velazquez picked up his record 694th victory at Saratoga aboard Unitarian on Saturday. NYRA/Adam Coglianese

Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez became the new all-time leading rider at Saratoga Race Course July 27, when he rode his 694th winner in the fourth race on the card.

Velazquez, 41, eclipsed fellow Hall of Famer Jerry Bailey's old record at the upstate New York oval when he piloted home Robert Evans' Unitarian for trainer Todd Pletcher.

"I definitely want to say thank you to Todd," Velazquez said. "I've been riding for him since 1998 and we're still going. I want to thank my family without whose support I wouldn't be able to do this. And I have to thank the fans. The fans have been great to me. Thank you for your support. Thank you everyone. I appreciate it, and hope to win many more."

Bailey said, "It was a matter of time. I looked at the numbers; he goes by all-time money winnings either this year or next year past myself and Pat Day, and he's going to set the standard for everybody. He's a great rider and he deserves every bit of this. I do hope he takes the time to enjoy and reflect on this, because it's major."

Velazquez is third in wins in the current meet standings at Saratoga, behind Javier Castellano and Joel Rosario. Represented by retired Hall of Fame legend Angel Cordero Jr., who won 649 Saratoga races, he has more than 5,000 career wins and this year at Saratoga has taken the Shuvee Handicap with Authenticity, the My Princess Jess Stakes with Silsita, and the On the Bus Stakes aboard Hessonite.

The jockey's other stakes wins in 2013 include the Man o' War Stakes and Monmouth Stakes aboard Boisterous, the Firecracker Handicap on reigning Horse of the Year Wise Dan, the Pegasus Stakes aboard Verrazano, the Woodford Reserve Manhattan Handicap on Point of Entry, and the Longines Just a Game Stakes on Stephanie's Kitten.