10/13/2013 6:15PM

Belmont Park: Velazquez sets record for career earnings

Barbara D. Livingston
John Velazquez, seen aboard Wood Memorial winner Verrazano, broke Pat Day's record for career earnings by a North American-based jockey Sunday at Belmont Park.

John Velazquez established a record for the most purse money won by a North American-based jockey Sunday, when he finished second aboard Bit Bustin in Belmont Park’s ninth race.

The second-place prize of $15,400 pushed Velazquez’s career mount earnings to $297,922,320, surpassing Pat Day’s record of $297,914,839. Coincidentally, Sunday was Day’s 60th birthday. Day retired in 2005 at age 51 with 8,803 wins – fourth all-time in that category – from 40,299 mounts.

Velazquez, 41, ranks 23rd in career wins with 5,082 from 28,127 mounts.

That Velazquez reached the earnings record in 12,000 fewer mounts than Day is reflective of the higher purses that have been offered the last several years compared with when Day was in his prime.

That, and going winless in four rides Sunday, may have been why Velazquez was less than impressed by breaking the record.

“It’s something that happened to happen, and I’m glad it happened,” Velazquez said.

Velazquez entered Sunday’s card trailing Day by $25,519. Velazquez chipped away at the record by finishing third in the first race, fourth in the third race, and third in the fifth race before his second-place finish in the ninth.

This is the third milestone for Velazquez this year. On June 14 at Belmont, Velazquez won his 5,000th career race. On July 27, Velazquez became Saratoga’s all-time leading rider in races won.

Velazquez is a two-time Eclipse Award-winning jockey who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2012.

Velazquez was the leading rider on the New York Racing Association circuit from 2001-04 and has won 22 individual NYRA meet titles.