| Contact: Graham Ross
Thursday, August 3, 2000
WHEN MILESTONES BEGAN AT ARLINGTON INTERNATIONAL
Two jockeys reaching such a major milestone as 4,000 wins during the same month at the same meeting is a racing rarity and Arlington hosted that unusual happening last month when both Mark Guidry and Tim Doocy became the 36th and 37th riders to accomplish that feat.
But 11 years ago today, Jorge Velasquez became only the fifth jockey in racing history to reach the 6,000-win milestone, and that is worth remembering because it was the first major historical event to happen at Arlington International Racecourse as Chicago's premier oval became known during that inaugural season.
As often happens with sports milestones, Velasquez went some time on the cusp of the figure without actually reaching it. At the time, Velasquez' home base was the New York circuit, and the native of Chepo, Panama had come to Chicago and Arlington to ride an entire season in the Midwest for the first time. His son Jorge, Jr. came to Chicago hoping to witness the event but had to return East after a couple of winless days. After one such afternoon, Velasquez returned to the jockeys' room, saw a soccer ball on the floor, and kicked it across the room in an act of frustration.
Nevertheless, on August 3, 1989, the big day finally arrived when Velasquez rode Maddie Bumpo to victory midway through the program. With his wife Margarita and daughters Michele and Monique looking on, the infield matrix board repeatedly flashed the figure 6,000 as Velasquez and Maddie Bumpo crossed under the wire. Track announcer Phil Georgeff proudly pumped the significance of the event for both Velasquez and Arlington International.
Later that month, on August 27, Velasquez rode his 6,033rd winner, passing the retired Johnny Longden to become the fourth winning rider of all time. It was Longden who had been the first jockey to reach 6,000 wins. Still later that season, on September 13, 1989, a third significant riding achievement was recorded during Arlington International's inaugural meeting when Pat Day rode eight winners from nine months, but it was Velasquez' breaking the 6,000 barrier paved the way historically for the new facility that had opened June 28.
Now, 11 years later, the number of riders with 6,000 wins in their careers has jumped to 14, with active Arlington reinsman Earlie Fires joining Velasquez in that club. It will be awhile before there are any more new members. Retired Hall of Fame jockey Jacinto Vasquez, like Velaquez a Panamanian native, is the currently 15th leading rider of all time with less than 5,300 career winners.
Velasquez is currently in eighth-place on the all-time list, behind Laffit Pincay Jr., Bill Shoemaker, Angel Cordero Jr., Pat Day, David Gall, Russell Baze and Chris McCarron. Behind Velaquez, but members of the 6,000-win club, are Sandy Hawley, Larry Snyder, Carl Gambardella, Eddie Delahoussaye, Fires and Longden.
Velasquez was inducted into the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame at Saratoga Springs in 1990 and retired in 1997 with 6,795 career wins.
PASSING MONEY MILESTONES THIS SUMMER AT ARLINGTON
Leading rider Mark Guidry surpassed $2 million dollars in purse earnings at the current meeting in mid-July.
Later that month Alfredo Juarez Jr. and Chris Emigh passed the $1 million mark for earnings at Arlington this summer. However, Ray Sibille joined that group yesterday.
COUNTDOWN TO 1,000
Arlington jockey Eduardo Perez is closing in on the 1,000-win milestone. The count through Wednesday: Eduardo Perez - 995 lifetime wins, Arlington Total: 24
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