08/04/2001 11:00PM

Velazquez wins five


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - What a difference a year makes.

Last Aug. 5, jockey John Velazquez was involved in a spill in which he suffered a broken collarbone, forcing him to miss the remainder of the Saratoga meeting.

This Aug. 5, Sunday, Velazquez made history at the Spa, becoming just the sixth rider to win five races on one card. Velazquez went 5 for 7 on the day, including a last-to-first victory aboard Starine ($6.80) in the eighth, his final mount of the day.

Earlier on the card, Velazquez rode Czardas Dancer ($10.60), Star Attraction ($8.10), Boodles ($11.20) and Atomizer ($37.40) to the wire first. None of his winners were favored.

Velazquez equaled the accomplishments of his agent, Hall of Fame rider Angel Cordero (July 31, 1968), as well as Ron Turcotte (Aug. 7, 1973), Julie Krone (Aug. 20, 1993), Mike Smith (July 21, 1996) and Jerry Bailey (Aug. 2, 1987).

"I came to the races today with a good attitude; I'm just gonna try my best and see what comes," Velazquez said. "I came here a few days where I looked at the paper and thought I had some really good chances and they ran really bad. Today, I said let me go and just ride my own races and try to win some races and everything worked out like it was supposed to."

Velazquez's five-bagger gave him 19 wins from 75 mounts. He is one ahead of Jerry Bailey, who went 1 for 7 on the card and is 18 for 59. The two figure to stage a spirited duel for leading rider all meet long.

"He's very strong with the stakes horses, he's very strong in allowance races," Velazquez said. "He's getting all the cream and I'm trying to get what's left. He's a great rider like everybody knows so it's kind of tough to battle with him, but I'm going to try anyway."

The irony of winning five on the one-year anniversary of his spill was not lost on Velazquez.

"I went to church today," Velazquez said. "Thank God I'm going home to my family. As long as I go home healthy and come here and ride some winners I'll be happy."