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Velazquez passes Day to become leading money earner

John Velazquez has become the leading money-earning jockey in North America (NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography)

Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez became North America's all-time leading money-earning jockey on Sunday at Belmont Park, breaking Pat Day's record and reaching $297,922,320 in career purses.

According to figures provided by Equibase, Velazquez, 41, entered the afternoon's card $26,519 shy of Day's mark of $297,914,839, which the retired Hall of Famer held since 2005.

With four mounts, Velazquez finished third in the 1ST race, fourth in the 3RD race and third in the 5TH race to come within $7,919 of the record before breaking it with $15,400 earned for a second-place finish in the 9TH race.

"It's something that happened to happen, and I'm glad it happened," Velazquez said.

Earlier this year, Velazquez became the all-time leading rider at Saratoga, breaking Jerry Bailey's record of 693 winners, and in July posted his 5,000th career victory.

Born in Carolina, Puerto Rico, Velazquez began riding in the mainland United States in 1990. A winner of 22 NYRA meet titles, including five at Saratoga, Velazquez won the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey in 2004 and 2005 and in 2009 was honored by his fellow riders with the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award.

Velazquez, who won the Kentucky Derby in 2011 with Animal Kingdom, is a two-time winner of the Belmont Stakes, having taken the race in 2007 with the filly Rags to Riches and in 2012 with Union Rags. He has captured 11 Breeders' Cup races, most recently the 2012 Mile with reigning Horse of the Year Wise Dan.

Velazquez was inducted in racing's Hall of Fame in 2012.

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