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Biofile John Velazquez Interview

By Scoop Malinowski

Status: Jockey won six Triple Crown Races including Kentucky Derby in 2011, 2017, 2020 and fifteen Breeders Cup races. Horses he’s rode have earned over $300m in prize earnings.

Ht: 5-6 Wt: 110

DOB: November 24, 1971 In: Carolina, Puerto Rico

Inspirations: “Well, for the racetrack, I have to say Angel Cordero.”

Hobbies/Interests: “I have no hobby [laughs]. Only my children and my wife. That’s my hobby.”

Nickname: Johnny V.

Favorite Movies: “Wow. I gotta say Dirty Dancing. The Star Wars movies are great movies.”

Favorite TV Show: “Friends.”

Musical Tastes: “All kinds. I like dance music.”

First Job: “Cleaning windows in a hotel in Puerto Rico – Travelodge in San Juan.”

First Car: “Toyota Corolla (gray).”

Early Racing Memory: “It was the Breeder’s Cup race in ‘88. Angel Cordero won one of the races. I watched it on TV, that was in Puerto Rico.”

Favorite Meal: “Anything. I like my rice and beans.”

Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: “Chocolate.”

Pre-Race Feeling: “Not much. Just a lot of homework. A lot of homework and thinking, What I’m gonna do the best for my horse. How should I be placing it? And also watch the races, race by race. And a lot of prayers [smiles].”

Greatest Sports Moment: “Wow. Well, winning the Belmont Stakes with Rags To Riches (2007). Wining Kentucky Derby in with Animal Kingdom (2011). Winning two Breeder’s Cup one day. Winning stakes races in Saratoga. And winning the Travers has been the highlights of my career.”

Most Painful Moment: “Many falls [laughs]. Many falls. That’s what I gotta say, yeah.”

Favorite Racetrack: “Saratoga.”

Funny Memory: “I remember Angel telling me the story how some horse – they made him bark at him. If you bark at him, he’ll run for it [smiles]. I think that was funny. He tried anything, so. Angel told me stories about people telling him instructions about horses. I thought that was a really funny one. It made him run faster.”

Embarrassing Memory: “For myself? I don’t know. Embarrassing for me – screwing up the race. That’s the most embarrassing thing. When you think you can win the race and you messed up the race. That’s embarrassing.”

Favorite Horses: “Oh my God, there’s so many. If I was going to have to name it I would have to name them all [laughs]. I rode so many good horses that were early in my career that actually put my name in different places. There’s a lot or horses that touch my heart, just because they won, lift up my career.”

Childhood Dream: “I look back, I never thought I was gonna be a jockey. That came later, as a teenager. Childhood dream…I just thought I was gonna be a lawyer or accountant, something to do with financials. I was always interested in numbers and money and stuff like that.”

People Qualities Most Admired: “Kindness.”

Family: Wife, Leona; daughter, Lerina; son, Michael.

About Mark Malinowski

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