01/06/2015 2:51PM

2014 Eclipse Awards: John Velazquez

Barbara D. Livingston

John Velazquez is chasing after his third Eclipse Award as outstanding jockey after a 2014 season in which he led all riders in Grade 1 wins. He collected three in a row Oct. 4 at Keeneland as part of a five-win day marked by Wise Dan’s score in the Shadwell Turf Mile, Carpe Diem’s victory in the Breeders’ Futurity, and Dayatthespa’s score in the First Lady.

Velazquez won 13 Grade 1 races last year, three aboard reigning Horse of the Year Wise Dan. The rider’s wave of big wins rolled right into the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita, where he captured the $3 million Turf with Main Sequence. It was a storybook development, Velazquez winning North America’s most prestigious turf race after coming back from a spill that took his spleen the week of the BC in 2013.

“A year ago, I was sitting in the hospital with Johnny V., and he was in critical condition,” Graham Motion, who trains Main Sequence, told Daily Racing Form. “It’s quite a turn of events.”

Velazquez’s other Grade 1 winners in 2014 were Judy the Beauty in the Madison, Palace Malice in the Metropolitan Handicap, Untapable in the Mother Goose, Stopchargingmaria in the Alabama, Competitive Edge in the Hopeful, Stephanie’s Kitten in the Flower Bowl, and Crown Queen in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup.

Velazquez, 43, also was honored with the Mike Venezia Memorial Award during the Saratoga meet after being voted the winner by racing fans. It recognizes sportsmanship and citizenship among jockeys. The rider, who ranks as the all-time leading earner among jockeys, won 166 races from 927 starts in 2014, for mount earnings of $19,486,658.