11/27/2011 6:11PM

Cornelio Velasquez joins 3,000 club

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NYRA/Adam Coglianese
Cornelio Velasquez aboard Up in Smoke after winning the 3,000th race of his career.

Jockey Cornelio Velasquez recorded his 3,000th career victory in North America Sunday when he guided Up in Smoke to an easy victory in the fifth race at Aqueduct.

It was the second win on Sunday’s card for Velasquez, who also took the opener on Hey Valentina, a mount he picked up when Ramon Dominguez took off his mounts due to a stomach virus.

According to Equibase statistics, Velasquez is the 158th jockey to record 3,000 North American victories. Velasquez also won more than 1,000 races in his native Panama, where he rode for 14 years before moving his tack to the U.S. in 1996 at the behest of New York owner/breeder Robert Perez.

"I feel good," Velasquez, 43, said afterward. "I’m very happy to have had a big career and that the trainers have given me a lot of chances. It’s like family here at Aqueduct. There’s a lot of competition, but I like New York."

Velasquez, who ranks third in the New York Racing Association standings for 2011 with 169 winners, will stay in New York this winter to ride. During last year’s Aqueduct inner-track meet, Velasquez finished as the third-leading rider with 58 wins.

In 2010, Velasquez finished fifth in NYRA’s overall standings with 110 winners from 757 mounts.