Puerto Rican Jockey John Velazquez Wins Big at the Kentucky Derby with Animal Kingdom

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Talk about being at the right place, at the right time! Puerto Rican jockey John Velazquez took home the first place prize at the famed Kentucky Derby horse race over the weekend, riding long shot Animal Kingdom to his very first win on a dirt track.

But Velazquez wasn't even supposed to be riding Animal Kingdom. He was brought in as a last minute replacement after an injury sidelined the horse's original jockey Robby Albarado. The horse Velazquez was supposed to ride (Uncle Mo) was an early favorite, but it's owners pulled him from the race after Mo came down with a stomach illness.

Velazquez, a Carolina, Puerto Rico native told the Associated Press, "For once, I'm on the good end of it. All of a sudden I pick up this one and he wins the Derby, so it was meant to be."

Since 1962, five Latino jockeys have been inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. Hall of famer jockeys Braulio Baeza (Panama), Puerto Rican Angel Tomas Cordero Jr. (who now manages John Velazquez), and José Adeón Santos León of Chile all won the Kentucky Derby in years past.

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About this author

Mariela Rosario,

I'm a raging opinionista and I love to share my ramblings on everything from pop culture to food to stuff that makes me laugh & cry! I've worked in all types of media (TV, film, print) and was previously the online editor at Latina magazine before joining Mamás Latinas. On most nights you can find me working my way through my library of cookbooks or playing with my puppy Lola (my only child so far). I have a wonderful hubby who shares my passion for any and all kinds of travel. Together, we've formed a semi-professional wine drinking team.

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