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Puerto Rican Jockey Takes Top Prize at Kentucky Derby

Forget the royal wedding. If you want to see some outrageous headgear in the good ol’ U.S. of A, check out pics from this past weekend’s Kentucky Derby. Featuring a host of debutantes and celebutantes, the annual horse racing event brought out big stars and a big victory for Puerto Rican jockey John Velazquez. His steed Animal Kingdom wound up taking home first prize!

Believe it or not, there are quite a lot of Hispanics in the horse racing world. Five Latino jockeys have been inducted into the prestigious National Museum of Racing, including riders from Chile and Panama. And seeing this recent victory for John, we’re sure he’s got a pretty good shot at making it in too. Interestingly, another Puerto Rican hall of famer, Angel Tomas Cordero, now manages Velazquez.

Followers of this year’s Derby know there’s quite an interesting story behind John’swin. Originally he was supposed to be riding the horse Uncle Mo. But after an unexpected stomach issue, Mo was pulled from the competition and Velazquezsaddled up on Animal Kingdom instead.

“For once, I’m on the good end of it,” John told the Associated Pressafter finishing the race. “All of a sudden I pick up this one and he wins the Derby, so it was meant to be.”

But don’t think Velazquez’ victory was easy. Another Latino competitor, Victor Espinoza, and his horse Midnight Interlude were early favorites of the Derby and probably gave some heavy gamblers quite a bit of heartache.

Ranked as some of the top riders in their fieldVelazquez is expected to earn over $4 million in 2011 and Espinoza should take home a cool $2.8 million for his saddle work. But who’s the top Latino rider? That would be Dominican jockey Joel Rosario, who earns over $5.5 million a year. Just 26-years-old, Rosario’s already won the prestigious Breeder’s Cup and ridden some of the most famous steeds in the industry.

There’s no doubt that JoelJohn, and Victor all deserved plenty of praise for their hard work at the Derby. Let’s hope they were able to kick back and enjoy some of Kentucky’s trademark Mint Juleps once the crowd cheers and fanfare died down.

Are you a fan of the Kentucky Derby? Sound off in the comments or @MTV3.


By Michael Lopez



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