Updated on 09/15/2011 12:58PM

Velazquez caps record day in Diana

Email
Michael J. Marten
Velazquez, who rode all 10 races on Monday's card, won races three through six aboard Gentleman Johnny, Warners, Exaltado, and Judge's Case.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - John Velazquez became the first jockey in the 133-year history of Saratoga Racecourse to win six races on a single program when he drove Starine through near the hedge for a convincing 5 1/4-length victory over Babae in Monday's $500,000 Diana Handicap. The Grade 2 Diana was the highlight of the final Mcard of the 2001 Saratoga meeting.

Despite his record-breaking performance, Velazquez could not overtake Jerry Bailey for the 2001 riding title, falling short 55-52. Velazquez, who missed the majority of last year's meet because of a broken collarbone, did join Bailey in eclipsing the old meet record of 50 victories, set by Bailey last summer.

Velazquez became the 12th rider to win six races on a single card in New York, joining a group that includes his agent, Angel Cordero Jr.

Velazquez, who rode all 10 races on Monday's card, won races three through six aboard Gentleman Johnny, Warners, Exaltado, and Judge's Case. After finishing second with Aslaaf in the seventh race he returned to win the eighth with odds-on favorite Celtic Melody, before breaking the record on Starine in the Diana.

"Winning six races in a single day is a great accomplishment and I am very proud," said Velazquez. "Doing it up here makes it extra special. I am very pleased the way the meet went, although it is unfortunate I did not get the title."

Starine's victory also capped off a phenomenal meet for trainer Bobby Frankel who won 10 races from 21 starters, six of those victories coming in Grade 1 or Grade 2 races. Frankel also owns Starine.

Velazquez allowed Starine, a French-bred daughter of Mendocino and Grisonnante, to settle along the hedge in midpack, while Iftiraas set the pace tracked by Babae and Gaviola. Starine appeared to be boxed in briefly entering the stretch but found an opening nearing the eighth pole where she split rivals, then quickly accelerated to easily drive past the tiring leaders and win going away.

Babae continued on gamely to finish second, 3 3/4 lengths before Penny's Gold, the 6-5 favorite and 120-pound highweight. Penny's Gold was followed by Sitka, Shopping for Love, Janet, Musical, Gaviola, and Iftiraas.

Starine covered 1 1/8 miles in 1:46.17 over a turf course officially listed as good and paid $12.40. Her winner's share of $300,000 nearly doubled her previous earnings.

"She trained here very well all month and really loves this course," said Jose Cuevas, assistant to Frankel. "I am very happy for John and also Angel. On any other occasion [Velazquez would] have been leading jockey."

Trainer Christophe Clement said he thought Penny's Gold "was not traveling as smoothly" as when she won the Ballston Spa Breeders' Cup Handicap earlier in the meet.

"The weight did not help, but we'll live to fight another day," said Clement. It was the first loss in five starts for Penny's Gold this year.

Go to Saratoga coverage.