Jockey Cornelio Velasquez hit the road Saturday and guided home a pair of stakes winners at Laurel Park and then won the feature race the following afternoon at his home base of Aqueduct in New York. That stakes winning weekend triple helped lead to him being named the Jockeys’ Guild Jockey of the Week for November 9th – November 15th. The award is voted on by a panel of experts for riding accomplishments by members of the Jockeys’ Guild, the organization which represents more than 950 riders in North America.
Velasquez delivered a perfectly timed ride aboard El Kabeir when winning the City of Laurel Stakes. Cornelio’s run from off the pace ended in him just getting the nod in a thrilling three-way head bobbing finish in the third of six stakes races carded Saturday afternoon at Laurel Park.
Cornelio’s next win at Laurel would lead to a far less dramatic finish when he cruised to victory later in the day aboard Hot City Girl. That pair would eventually crush the field for the Safely Kept Stakes by 8 1/4 lengths in wire-to-wire fashion as the prohibitive favorite.
Back home in New York on Sunday, Velasquez would rate the New York bred Sheriffa in the early going then seize the lead at the top of the lane and go on to win the featured New York Stallion Series Stakes for trainer Linda Rice.
Velasquez was introduced to horse racing at age fifteen by trainer Carlos Salazar Guardia in his native Panama and enrolled in the national jockey school there. In his first year of racing in Panama he was his country’s top apprentice jockey and became the leading journeyman rider there in 1994 and 1995.
In 1996 Cornelio came to the United States to race at New York’s Belmont Park. Since then he has 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. He won another two Breeders’ Cup races in 2005 and rode Closing Argument to a second-place finish in the Kentucky Derby.
For the week Cornelio rode four winners from 17 starters with four second placings and three third place finishes. His total earnings for the week were $311,871.
JockeyTalk360.com spotlights the riders across North America and around the world who may be the bravest, toughest and most accomplished of all athletes. The Jockeys’ Guild Jockey of the Week is selected by a vote of representatives of America’s Best Racing, the Daily Racing Form, Equibase, the Jockeys’ Guild, the Paulick Report, the Thoroughbred Daily News, National Thoroughbred Racing Association, National Turf Writers and Broadcasters, Thoroughbred Racing Associations, and Turf Publicists of America.