John Velazquez is a famous jockey from Puerto Rico. His professional horse racing career earned him at least six Triple Crown and 15 Breeder’s Cup victories. His stellar career proved to be financially rewarding as Jockey John Velazquez net worth is estimated to be around $260 million to $300 million.
This fortune isn’t surprising as John Velazquez is the highest-paid jockey in the world’s history. He’s also the first-ever horse racer to reach the $300 million income mark.
Below, we talk more about the athlete, how he earned his fortune, and details about his personal life.
Who is Jockey John Velazquez?
John Velazquez was born on November 24, 1971 in Puerto Rico. He had an early start in horse racing after winning his first-ever professional race in 1990.
In the same year, Velazquez decided to move to New York to seek the professional guidance of Angel Cordero Jr., a leading jockey at that time.
When Velazquez moved to the United States, he could barely speak English. He said that one thing that helped him learn the English language is by watching the movie ‘Little Mermaid’ together with Cordero’s little daughter.
From there, Velazquez’s career soared and landed him as one of the most elite jockeys of all time. And in 2012, he was inducted into the Racing Hall of Fame for his incomparable career.
Jockey John Velazquez’s personal life
Velazquez is currently married to Leona O’Brien. Leona is the daughter of horse racing trainer Leo O’Brien. The couple has two kids, a son named Michael Patrick and a daughter named Lerina.
Velazquez met his wife in 1994 shortly after he moved to America. He stated that his wife has a significant role in his success as a jockey. It was Velazquez’s wife that convinced his family to support his jockey career.
Aside from that, not much is known about Velazquez’s personal life. Still, his career on the race track never fails to amaze fans and even those who are new to the sport.
Jockey John Velazquez’s career
John Velazquez’s career started in the 1990s when he decided to move to the U.S. Before he left his homeland, Velazquez managed to seal his first racing win at the El Nuevo Comandante racetrack. After that, he won his first race in America in 1990 at the Aqueduct Racetrack.
The following year, Velazquez won his first graded stakes at the Ohio Derby. In 1995, he won his first-ever Grade I stakes during the Turf Classic Invitational held in Belmont, California.
From there, Velazquez was able to seal more wins and riding titles. In 1996, he rode on his way to his first Eclipse Award under the training of his father-in-law.
On September 3, 2001, John Velazquez continued his winning streak and set a Saratoga record of six wins in just one day.
By 2004, Velazquez has scored his 3,000th win on the track. In the same year, he won the Bill Shoemaker Award under the Top Breeder’s Cup performance by a jockey division. He won the same award again in 2011 and 2014.
In 2004, Velazquez managed to win 335 out of his 1,327 races. This is already considered exemplary in the jockey sport. In fact, this rate made him the highest-earning jockey in North America.
The following year, Velazquez made another record by beating Jerry Bailey’s 2003 record of having the highest national earnings.
However, John Velazquez’s career also suffered from challenges. In 2006, he was seriously injured after falling from his horse during a race. He broke two ribs, fractured a shoulder blade, and injured his right lung and sternum.
Nevertheless, Velazquez was able to return to the track in June of the same year where he placed second. It’s no mean feat as Velazquez was expected to be out for at least five months.
In 2013, Johnny V (the nickname given to him) won his 5,000th race. He’s also declared as Saratoga’s all-time winningest rider in the same year. By this time, Velazquez has already earned more than $297 million throughout his career.
Despite another injury in 2013, Velazquez returned to racing in January 2014. That’s the time he recorded all-time earnings of $300 million, the highest in any jockey’s career.
Velazquez’s career has no signs of stopping. He continued to win races until to this day. One of his most recent wins was in May 2021 at the 147th Kentucky Derby while riding Medina Spirit.
He is expected to compete in more races in the future, which will surely beef up his fortunes and record-shattering career.
Jockey John Velazquez net worth
Due to this stellar jockey career, it’s no wonder that John Velazquez’s fortune is estimated to be around $200 to $300 million. This is likely the estimation of his career purse, so his exact assets are yet to be confirmed to this day.
As of 2022, Velazquez’s lifetime earnings in jockeying are already more than $448 million. In 2022 alone, he was said to have earned at least $396,000. This is considerably low due to COVID restrictions.
According to public sources, Velazquez makes an average of $24 million a year from his career. So far, he’s sourcing his income from his jockey career.
Since Velazquez is still active in the sport, his net worth is expected to get bigger and bigger. After all, the purse of the 2021 Kentucky Derby alone is already worth $3 million. The winner will receive 60% of this pot money. Take note that Velazquez is competing in dozens of races per year.
His wife Leona is also in the jockey industry. This adds up to the income of the couple.
Jockey John Velazquez net worth is estimated to be around $446 million throughout his career. This isn’t a big surprise since the jockey has competed in thousands of races and won hundreds of times. Also, he continues to rule the track and has no signs of retiring anytime soon.
With that, we can expect Velazquez’s wealth to get bigger over the years.
(Featurd image by Bill Frakes for ESPN)