By Mint Julep


José Santos Jockey: One Kentucky Derby Win

animal kingdom kentucky derby winner 2011

Embark on an exciting journey through the impressive career of José Santos, a highly respected jockey famous for his smart racing techniques and memorable win at the Kentucky Derby. Discover his incredible skills, victories in top races, and lasting influence in the world of horse riding. Learn about Santos’ background, key achievements in racing, and how he left a mark on the sport with his exceptional contributions to its history.

Early Life and Family Background

John R. Velazquez, originally from Carolina, Puerto Rico, started his successful career in Thoroughbred horse racing after attending a jockey school for a year and a half. Moving to New York in 1990 was a game-changer for him as he learned from the respected jockey Angel Cordero Jr., propelling him towards becoming one of the most acclaimed figures in the sport. This shift not only changed where he lived but also opened up numerous opportunities for him to improve his skills and demonstrate his natural talent on prestigious racetracks.

Velazquez’s early years were defined by hard work and an unwavering drive for excellence in the competitive world of horse racing. He fully committed himself to mastering the art of riding these magnificent animals on the track through dedicated practice sessions and sheer determination. Learning alongside experienced pros like Cordero Jr., Velazquez absorbed valuable lessons that laid a strong foundation for what would turn out to be an exceptional career filled with impressive wins and unforgettable moments that left their mark on racing history.

Leaving behind sunny Puerto Rico, Velazquez faced challenges head-on in bustling New York—the heart of American horse racing—where dreams clashed with reality amid thundering hooves at Belmont Park’s renowned turf. Adjusting to this new environment full of tough competitors and high-stakes races, Velazquez showcased grit combined with raw talent—an exceptional mix that set him apart early on in an arena where every second mattered, each move strategically planned out.

In this blend of tradition and modernity, John R. Velazquez emerged as more than just another talented rider; he embodied resilience personified—a symbol of perseverance seamlessly intertwined with unmatched equestrian finesse admired by many who dared challenge fate atop speeding stallions charging towards victory under vivid azure skies painted over historic racecourses across America—his name destined for greatness within revered halls where legends galloped forever beneath golden sunsets glowing brightly with renewed promise each dawn beckoning champions forward once again towards eternal glory’s embrace.

Introduction to Racing

In January 1990, Velazquez won his first race on Rodas at El Nuevo Comandante racetrack in Canóvanas, Puerto Rico. It was a moment that kickstarted an incredible journey towards success. Back then, no one could have predicted that this young jockey would soon make a name for himself in the world of horse racing.

Choosing to head to New York State later that year turned out to be a game-changer for him. He rode into Aqueduct Racetrack and secured his first stakes race victory with determination and skill. This win not only marked a personal milestone but also showed that he was ready to tackle bigger challenges ahead.

This early taste of triumph laid the groundwork for what would become an illustrious career filled with wins in prestigious American races. From starting out under Caribbean skies to dominating tracks across the United States, every step taken by Velazquez showcased his talent and perseverance in mastering the sport of horse racing.

The Pros & Cons of Derby Day Delight


  1. Get ready for thrilling horse racing excitement
  2. Explore trendy fashion and style trends
  3. Indulge in classic mint julep cocktails
  4. Show off your fabulous hats and outfits
  5. Witness history being made right before your eyes
  6. Connect with other passionate horse racing fans


  1. Packed event locations
  2. Steep ticket costs
  3. Unforeseeable weather changes
  4. Lengthy waits for snacks and beverages
  5. Possible traffic jams
  6. Few chances to see clearly at busy venues

Triple Crown Triumphs

In the exciting world of horse racing, there are few achievements as prestigious and challenging as winning the Triple Crown races. Velazquez has shown exceptional talent with his impressive victories in several top events. His wins at the Kentucky Derby in 2011, 2017, and 2020 not only highlight his natural abilities but also showcase his smart race strategies.

Velazquez’s reputation is further enhanced by his successes at the Belmont Stakes in both 2007 and 2012. These wins demonstrate his adaptability and expertise on various tracks and under different race conditions, proving him to be a true expert in equestrian competitions.

Winning six Triple Crown races throughout one’s career speaks volumes about Velazquez’s commitment to honing their skills. Each victory represents countless hours of hard work, dedicated training routines, and an unwavering determination to excel on some of horse racing’s toughest platforms.

The influence of Velazquez’s triumphs resonates through history – leaving an enduring impact on the sport for future generations. His name will forever be linked with perseverance, drive, and unmatched success in one of humanity’s oldest sporting traditions; each win adding another remarkable chapter to a legendary career that continues to inspire fans across the globe.

Major Stakes Wins

Velazquez has won many prestigious races like the Metropolitan Handicap, Whitney Handicap, Dubai World Cup, Woodbine Mile, and other top-notch competitions that show off his amazing talent and skill on the racecourse. Throughout his racing career, Velazquez consistently showed a profound understanding of how races work and a natural ability to guide horses with precision towards victory. His smart tactics shine through as he navigates crowded fields expertly, times his moves perfectly down the stretch, and builds strong partnerships with elite thoroughbreds.

With each big win under his belt, Velazquez cements himself as one of the best jockeys in modern horse racing history. His talent for adapting to different tracks and adjusting to various levels of competition sets him apart from others in the sport. Whether it’s sprint distances or longer routes on turf or dirt surfaces – Velazquez excels at all types of high-stakes events around the world.

But Velazquez isn’t just about winning races; he also influences young riders by setting an example of excellence both on and off the racetrack. He embodies dedication, sportsmanship, and unwavering passion for equestrian competition – qualities that have not only earned him numerous awards but have also made fans worldwide see him as a true legend in horse racing circles.

Jockey Extraordinaire: John R. Velazquez

Attribute Data
Name John R. Velazquez
Occupation Jockey
Born November 24, 1971 (age 52), Carolina, Puerto Rico
Height 1.68 m (5 ft 6 in)
Weight 112 lb (51 kg; 8 st 0 lb)
Career wins 6,000 in North America As of 30 November 2018
Major racing wins – Kentucky Derby (2011, 2017, 2020)
– Belmont Stakes (2007, 2012)
– Preakness Stakes (2023)
Racing awards – United States Champion Jockey by earnings (2004, 2005)
– Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey (2004, 2005)
– George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award (2009)
Honours National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame (2012)
Significant horses Authentic, Da Hoss, Storm Flag Flying, Lemon Drop Kid,
Ashado, Kitten’s Joy, Flower Alley, Lawyer Ron, etc.

International Success

José Santos was an exceptional figure in the world of horse racing, showcasing his incredible talent not only on tracks in America but also across the globe. By competing internationally, Santos made a lasting impact by winning races like the Woodbine Mile multiple times and claiming victory at prestigious events such as the Dubai World Cup and King’s Stand Stakes. His smart strategies and unwavering determination helped him win important titles all over the world.

With excellent control over his horses, José Santos displayed unmatched skill that went beyond borders. His victories were celebrated not just in America but worldwide, impressing fans who admired his amazing abilities on different tracks around the globe. Santos’ knack for adapting to various racecourses showed how versatile he was as a jockey, solidifying his reputation as one of the best riders globally.

The excitement of international competitions drew José Santos like a magnet pulling sailors towards new adventures at sea. Facing challenges with determination and elegance, he defeated tough rivals on unfamiliar grounds while making history in equestrian sports through remarkable displays of fairness and strategy. Each triumph added another jewel to Santos’ crown of accomplishments, establishing him as a legend both at home and abroad.

José Santos’ journey from local favorite to global sensation is proof that perseverance and passion can lead to excellence in horse racing’s rich tapestry. His wins across continents signify more than personal achievements; they are milestones that have enriched the sport’s legacy for future generations—inspiring young jockeys worldwide with stories woven from hard work, skilled riding techniques learned through years of experience—a true champion whose name will echo throughout history forevermore.

Hall of Fame Induction

In 2012, the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame inducted John R. Velazquez for his outstanding contributions to horse racing during a stellar career that spanned many years.

Velazquez’s journey to the Hall of Fame started from humble beginnings in Puerto Rico. He set out to pursue his dream of becoming a jockey when he moved to New York at age 19. In no time, he became known as one of the most skilled riders in the industry.

Throughout his impressive career, Velazquez achieved over 6,000 victories. Notable wins include multiple Kentucky Derby triumphs and Breeders’ Cup successes that established him as an exceptional jockey on both turf and dirt tracks.

Famous for his strategic race-riding abilities and unmatched work ethic, Velazquez stood out from others thanks to his natural connection with horses which helped him consistently win at top-tier competitions.

Beyond just being recognized for his track record achievements when entering the Hall of Fame, Velazquez was honored for not only what he had accomplished individually but also revered as a mentor and role model inspiring young jockeys looking up to him hoping they can emulate their idol’s footsteps.

Legendary tales of a Derby champion

  1. Legendary story of a Derby champion: José Santos the Jockey – One Big Win at the Kentucky Derby
  2. The “Perfect Ride”: Back in 2003, jockey José Santos steered Funny Cide to victory at the prestigious Kentucky Derby. Known for his flawless performance that day, Santos showcased exceptional skill and a strong connection with the horse, earning him praise as he rode to glory.
  3. Superstitions and Lucky Charms: Just like many jockeys out there, José Santos had his own rituals and lucky charms. It’s said that he always sported a special pair of socks during races; believing they brought him good luck and helped secure crucial wins such as those at the Kentucky Derby.
  4. Bond with Funny Cide: Santos shared a unique bond with Funny Cide, the horse he guided to victory at the Kentucky Derby. Their synchronized movements and mutual trust highlighted their strong connection – emphasizing how vital it is for both jockey and mount to work together harmoniously on the racetrack.
  5. Overcoming Adversity: Throughout his career, José Santos faced numerous challenges including injuries and setbacks but overcame them all through perseverance while excelling in horse racing world – eventually making history by clinching victories like no other as a winning jockey at the renowned Kentucky Derby.
  6. Legacy of Excellence: By triumphing at one of horse racing’s biggest events – The Kentucky Derby -José Santos solidified himself as an incredibly skilled & talented jockey leaving behind an unforgettable legacy that serves as inspiration highlighting what passion & expertise can achieve within this thrilling sport!

Contributions Beyond Riding

José Santos isn’t just known for his amazing horse riding skills. He’s also doing big things off the track. Besides being famous for his smart moves and smooth riding style, he’s a top leader as chairman of the Jockeys’ Guild board. In this role, he fights hard to make sure jockeys get treated right and works to improve things in the equestrian world.

Santos keeps cool under pressure and is well-respected in horse racing circles because of it. His calm attitude during races not only shows off his talent but also proves how serious he is about giving his best on and off the field. Fans, fellow riders, and industry pros all look up to him for handling tough situations with grace.

Apart from winning exciting races on the course, José Santos stands out for supporting important causes in sports. As head of Jockeys’ Guild, he uses his power and knowledge to back jockeys up so they can speak out—a solid sign that he really cares about improving conditions within an industry close to his heart. By using his influence away from racing tracks too, Santos displays leadership qualities that go beyond just athletic abilities.

José Santos doesn’t stop at scoring wins; he’s focused on making a difference by pushing for better care in global equestrian communities through advocacy work as chairman of Jockeys’ Guild—where he fights for key issues impacting riders’ lives—to prove that even one person can create real change towards brighter futures within this challenging yet rewarding sport.”

Endorsement Deals and Business Ventures

José Santos, known for his incredible win in the Kentucky Derby, moved on to new ventures after retiring with strong dedication. He didn’t just do well on the racetrack; Santos also became chairman of the Jockeys’ Guild. His work with the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund showed how much he cared about helping other riders during tough times. Apart from his charitable efforts, Santos also found success in business within horse racing.

Santos was not only skilled at racing but also excelled off the track by taking charge as chairman of the Jockeys’ Guild. In this role, he led projects to improve conditions and support systems for jockeys at different tracks. This leadership position highlighted both his administrative skills and his lasting passion for raising standards in horse racing communities nationwide.

Besides leading important organizations that supported riders’ welfare, José Santos started smart business endeavors that added to his reputation in equestrian circles. His varied strategy included caring advocacy and sharp entrepreneurial spirit—a mix showing how committed he was to lifting up not just himself but everyone involved in thoroughbred racing’s vibrant world.

Illness and Passing

John R. Velazquez, a highly accomplished jockey from Puerto Rico, has made a name for himself in the horse racing world by winning over $300 million and earning numerous Eclipse Awards for Outstanding Jockey. His skill on the track and unwavering commitment to the sport have placed him among Puerto Rico’s most celebrated jockeys.

Velazquez is known for his exceptional ability to form strong bonds with horses, allowing him to expertly guide them through races with precision and finesse. His strategic approach to each race, combined with his deep understanding of horse behavior, sets him apart as a top-tier jockey whose talents go beyond just physical prowess.

Throughout his successful career, Velazquez has not only accumulated significant wealth but has also earned respect from fans worldwide for his sportsmanship both on and off the racetrack. He serves as an inspiration for aspiring jockeys by showing that success in horse racing requires not only talent but also integrity and reverence towards these magnificent animals.

As Velazquez continues to excel in equestrian sports, he leaves behind a legacy that exemplifies hard work, determination, and love for horseracing—a true reflection of Puerto Rico’s vibrant heritage within this thrilling sport. With each race won and victory achieved, Velazquez solidifies his place among legends while motivating future generations of riders.


1. How did José Santos’ victory in the Kentucky Derby impact his career and legacy as a jockey?

José Santos’ win in the Kentucky Derby made him a legendary jockey, proving his incredible talent and smart racing skills. This victory established him as one of the best and most respected figures in horse racing history, leaving an enduring legacy that will always be remembered.

2. What were some of the key strategies and skills that José Santos employed during his historic Kentucky Derby win?

During his groundbreaking win at the Kentucky Derby, José Santos demonstrated outstanding racing tactics by skillfully guiding his horse, Funny Cide, to a strategic victory in the prestigious “Run for the Roses.”

3. Can you provide insights into José Santos’ background and journey to becoming a renowned jockey?

José Santos, who was born in Concepción, Chile, worked hard and dedicated himself to his craft. He started from a modest background but through determination and perseverance, he became a well-known jockey admired for his exceptional skills and strategic racing abilities.

4. How did José Santos’ triumph in the Kentucky Derby influence the landscape of horse racing at that time?

José Santos made history with his incredible win at the Kentucky Derby. His amazing talent and smart racing moves not only proved his skills but also established him as a legendary jockey. He broke barriers and set new standards for excellence in horse racing, shaping the sport’s future.

5. What distinguished José Santos from other jockeys, making him a standout figure in the equestrian world?

Jose Santos’s remarkable talent, sharp racing skills, and unforgettable win at the Kentucky Derby made him a standout in the equestrian community, establishing his reputation as a legendary jockey.

6. In what ways did José Santos’ success in the Kentucky Derby contribute to the broader history and evolution of horse racing?

José Santos made history by winning the Kentucky Derby, showing not just his amazing talent and smart racing skills but also creating a big moment in the sport’s story. This victory established him as a legendary jockey, motivating upcoming riders for years to come.