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Jockey John Velazquez about the terrifying Preakness incident, Belmont changed, his future



Jockey John Velazquez about the terrifying Preakness incident, Belmont changed, his future

With horse racing returning to its tracks after being closed by the pandemic, Kentucky Derby jockey and Belmont Stakes twice won, John Velazquez, running through Q&A with Post columnist Steve Serby.

Q: How do you feel about protest in this country?

A: I don’t want to do politics, but what’s wrong is wrong. Riots and looting are wrong, do not fix anything. We know that racism exists – it exists here and everywhere, not only in the United States. I’m from Puerto Rico, and I saw it in Puerto Rico too. You have to think about equality. No matter what you are, it’s just the equation for everyone. I am for equality for all people, whether it is a man, woman or skin color or whatever religion. I think humanity would be much better if everyone treated everyone basically the same and gave love and affection.

Q: What does it feel like to have the Belmont Stake as the first leg of the Triple Crown instead of the last?

A: We think that last year was a strange year, and 2020 made it even stranger than last year (laughs). … Very strange.

Q: What does it feel like without a fan?

A: The fans will be answered.

Q: What’s unique about New York racing fans?

A: They are very unique, actually, they can be very, very loving, or very rude too (laugh). You definitely have to have tough skin in New York. Like if you can produce it in New York, you can make it anywhere. They can be very, very good, but they can also be very, very tough.

Q: Race is 1 ¹ / ₈ mile instead of 1 ¹ / ₂ mile Test of a Champion.

A: This is clearly very unusual.

Q: Is that good for your horse, Tap to Win?

A: Really yes (laugh). This time, only reaching 1 ¹ / ₈ mile, this definitely helped my horse.

Q: Why is coach Todd Pletcher right for you?

A: We have become a great partnership – great horses and trust in each other. You have to have a plan for the race, not only Plan A, Plan B, Plan C, but you have to be ready to change quickly and try to make fewer mistakes possible, so after the gate is open, I am the one who has to make the decision to the horses. And he gave me that trust.

Horse racing
Jockey John Velazquez spoke with coach Todd Pletcher.Jason Szenes

Q: Can you summarize the qualities that make you the Hall of Fame jockey?

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A: Great opportunity, great horses, that’s the main thing. But you have to be able to make things happen in the race. Not all the time the horse will make it easy for you to win the race.

Q: Explain Rags to Riches, your 2007 Belmont Stakes winner.

A: I never got the chance to drive it before Belmont. We think the distance is very suitable for him. It was a difficult year for a 3-year-old, and for him to do what he did, stumbling from the gate, I thought that was all, the race had ended since git-go. It goes down to the wire, with the neck in front of the other horse [Curlin], which became a horse the following year. Extraordinary.

Q: Union Rags, winner of your 2012 Belmont Stakes.

A: Another horse that I was fortunate enough that the connection felt compatible with the horse and gave me the opportunity to drive it in Belmont, and not only that, run it all the way we thought it would come out.

Q: Animal Kingdom, winner of your 2011 Kentucky Derby.

A: You have to be a really good horse to do what he does comes from grass to the ground. It was nice to be there, fortunate to be there too, because I shouldn’t ride it.

Q: Always dreaming, your 2017 Kentucky Derby winner.

A: To see it grow from one race to another, and receive many criticisms that people do not believe in it, and he goes and proves we are right. Amazing horse.

Q: Missing your resume: win Preakness. What does that mean for you?

A: This will mean a lot to me, because I have been chasing all these Triple Crown races, and I haven’t had the chance to win Preakness yet. I have two seconds on Preakness.

Q: Tell me about last year’s Preakness.

A: I didn’t ride much, I was thrown (laugh). He [Bodexpress] has a bad reputation for this – this time it’s not his horse’s fault. The assistant starter at the gate did not give us the opportunity the horse needed. When the door opened, he held his mouth and he jumped so high he just threw me. Thankfully, the horse and I returned well.

Q: You were taken on a stretcher and taken by ambulance to the hospital with a broken shoulder after Up a Octave collapsed after winning the Forerunner Stakes at Keeneland in 2006

A: I’ve never really ridden a horse over me, and that’s scary. The entire right side of my body is somewhat numb.

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Q: How much time do you spend?

A: I think I missed two months of the year.

Q: Wise Dan is one of your favorites, right?

A: My favorite horse so far. I was lucky too. He’s a horse that is difficult to drive, must be very strong and very difficult, and I came up with an idea how to make him satisfied and it worked. From the first day I drove it, I hung out with it. He went from land to grass to poly, he won everything. Once he learns to relax and put him in the place I want, that’s what makes him a great horse.

Q: You are thinking of returning to Puerto Rico in 1992. Why not?

A: Apart from my agent I had at the time and did not have anyone … having a very, very difficult meeting, I think I won two or three races that summer at Saratoga. That was my second year of riding. It makes you – you think that you are not good enough. I definitely think I’m going home. My mother [Margarita] said, “Get another agent. This is what you decide to do. You won’t give up that easily.” I found an agent [Ralph Theroux Jr.], and here I am. That is a gift that came from God, I think.

Q: How proud are you that you are the biggest money maker in this sport?

A: I have never thought of such a thing. People trust me with these horses. I have been blessed with the opportunity I have given. You must be proud and humble.

Q: Is that why you like watching “Billions”?

A: I like to learn different things, and it is very entertaining.

Q: If you could choose the brains of every jockey in the history of horse racing, who would you like to sit with?

A: (Laughter) That’s a very good question. I must tell you that I am very fortunate that I have been near all the best jockeys I can remember. When I arrived here in New York, 1990, if you mention it [Angel] Cordero, Jerry Bailey, Gary Stevens, Mike Smith, Pat Day – all the people I was looking for – I rode with them. So I talk to them all the time, you know what I mean? I can’t choose one of them because I talk to all of them (laugh). It was amazing for me to just watch them go up and talk to them.

Q: If you could ride a horse in history, which one?

A: There are so many, but I would say Cigar. I see the growth he has. There is no question for me it is Cigar, yes.

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Q: What about the Secretariat?

A: Yes, I’m not with the Secretariat.

Q: How secure are your feelings on the track?

A: I am the chairman of the Jockey Guild, and I am proud that we have worked with horse racing tracks throughout the country to make protocols. We are very proud and humble to be here and back for business.

Q: You stayed at Cordero’s house when you first came to New York and learned English watching “Little Mermaid” with her 2-year-old daughter Canela.

A: I lived with them for about, I don’t know, two months, I think. And every day he would come home and he would wait for me to sit with him and watch “The Little Mermaid” (laugh).

Q: Favorite movie ”

A: “A Bronx Tale.” We are proud to make the film, and we watch it all the time. We [Cordero and others] were in the film when they had a race at Aqueduct.

Q: Three dinner guests?

A: Marc Anthony, Tom Hanks, Warren Buffett.

Q: Favorite actor?

A: Tom Hanks.

Q: Favorite actress?

A: Jennifer Lopez.

Q: Favorite singer / entertainer?

A: Marc Anthony.

Q: Favorite food?

A: Puerto Rican food.

John Velazquez takes the first throw at Citi Field.Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

Q: How much longer do you want to drive?

A: I am healthy and I get the opportunities I have given, even at this age [48] … be selective clear, don’t drive as much race too. I don’t know, we’ll see how it goes, I’m still chasing a few races like you said, so hopefully I’m healthy enough before I retire to win one of those races (laughs).

Q: What drives you?

A: I like to drive, I like to be competitive. I like to do things that I like, and do it well. It keeps me hungry and hungry.

Q: What do you expect from your inheritance?

A: To be honest, I never thought about it. Racing is very good for me and my family, and I think I’m also very good for racing. I think I’ve done a good job by trying to make racing better and trying to make it safer for everyone, and basically trying to grow sports.

Q: Even though there won’t be fans, and even though the race has been shortened, is it still special to win Belmont?

A: Absolutely. Hunger and the desire to win Belmont are special. For me to be in New York, that was my home.

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Portuguese historical films will premiere on 29 December.



Portuguese historical films will premiere on 29 December.

Method Media Bermuda will present the documentary FABRIC: Portuguese History in Bermuda on Thursday, December 29 at the Underwater Research Institute of Bermuda.

A spokesperson said: “Method Media is proud to bring Bermuda Fabric: Portugal History to Bermuda for its 5th and 6th showing at the Bermuda Underwater Observatory. In November and December 2019, Cloth: A Portuguese Story in Bermuda had four sold-out screenings. Now that Bermuda has reopened after the pandemic, it’s time to bring the film back for at least two screenings.

“There are tickets For $ 20 – sessions at 15:30 and 18:00. Both screenings will be followed by a short Q&A session.

Director and producer Milton Raboso says, “FABRIC is a definitive account of the Portuguese community in Bermuda and its 151 years of history, but it also places Bermuda, Acors and Portugal in the world history and the events that have fueled those 151 years.

“It took more than 10 years to implement FABRIC. The film was supported by the Minister of Culture, the Government of the Azores and private donors.

Bermuda Media Method [MMB] Created in 2011 by producer Milton Raposo. MMB has created content for a wide range of clients: Bermuda’s new hospital renovation, reinsurance, travel campaigns, international sports and more. MMB pays special attention to artistic, cultural and historical content.

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Maestro de Braga is the first Portuguese in the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba.



Maestro de Braga is the first Portuguese in the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba.

Maestro Filipe Cunha, Artistic Director of the Philharmonic Orchestra of Braga, has been invited to conduct the Cuban National Symphony Orchestra, as announced today.

According to a statement sent by O MINHO, “he will be the first Portuguese conductor to conduct this orchestra in its entire history.”

In addition to this orchestra, the maestro will also work with the Lyceo Mozarteum de la Habana Symphony Orchestra.

The concerts will take place on 4 and 12 March 2023 at the National Theater of Cuba in Havana.

In the words of the maestro, quoted in the statement, “these will be very beautiful concerts with difficult but very complex pieces” and therefore he feels “very motivated”.

From the very beginning, Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 will be performed by an Italian pianist (Luigi Borzillo), whom the maestro wants to bring to Portugal later this year. In the same concert, Mendelshon’s First Symphony will be performed.

Then, at the second concert, in the company of the Mexican clarinetist Angel Zedillo, he will perform the Louis Sfora Concerto No. 2. In this concert, the maestro also conducts Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony.

“This is an international recognition of my work. An invitation that I accept with humility and great responsibility. I was surprised to learn that I would be the first Portuguese member of the Cuban National Symphony Orchestra. This is a very great honor,” the maestro said in a statement.

“I take with me the name of the city of Braga and Portugal with all the responsibility that goes with it, and I hope to do a good job there, leaving a good image and putting on great concerts. These will be very special concerts because, in addition to performing pieces that I love, especially Rachmaninov and Tchaikovsky, I will be directing two wonderful soloists who are also my friends. It will be very beautiful,” concludes Filipe Cunha.

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