The Grade I, $1.25 Million Whitney at Saratoga

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I’m in Saratoga for the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic, the #WhitneyStakes, which is taking place today at the Saratoga Race Course.


“Named for the family that has been involved in New York racing since the 19th century, the race was first to run in 1928, and is famously the race that Secretariat lost to the unheralded Onion, two months after winning the Triple Crown,” writes Teresa Genara in Forbes.

“This year’s Grade I Whitney is worth $1.25 million, with 60% of that going to the winner, along with $10,000 in Breeders’ Cup traveling expenses, nomination and entry fees for the Breeders’ Cup Classic, and an automatic berth in the race.”

At the Winner's Circle at the Saratoga Race Course for #TheWhitney.
At the Winner’s Circle at the Saratoga Race Course for #TheWhitney.

I also saw John R. Velazquez, pictured below.

Velazquez was born on November 24, 1971, in Carolina, Puerto Rico and is a jockey in Thoroughbred horse racing. He learned to ride in his native Puerto Rico and in 1990, under the guidance of agent and former jockey, Angel Cordero, Jr., he moved to New York State where he earned 24 riding titles at Aqueduct Racetrack, Belmont Park, and Saratoga Race Course.


He got his big break in 1998 when he won the 1998 Breeders’ Cup Mile on Da Hoss.

A winner of eight Breeders’ Cup races, he has also won graded stakes races such as the Kentucky Oaks, Blue Grass Stakes, Dubai World Cup, E. P. Taylor Stakes (twice), Whitney Handicap, Woodbine Mile, plus the Cigar Mile Handicap. To date in his career, John Velazquez has ridden more than 4,000 winners. In 2004 and 2005 he was the United States Champion Jockey by earnings and was voted the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey in 2004 and 2005.

Pictured below is Marylou Whitney and John Hendrickson. Whitney, whose accomplishments and generosity in Thoroughbred racing and philanthropy have garnered national acclaim and admiration, was honored by Churchill Downs with the designation of “First Lady of the Oaks” during a celebration on Longines Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) last year at Churchill, reports BloodHorse Magazine.

Marylou Whitney and John Hendrickson
Marylou Whitney and John Hendrickson

About Irene Michaels

Over the past 25 years I have taken on the roles of a producer, publisher, insider journalist and fundraiser. My artistic interests began early in my teens working as a model and a dancer throughout the U.S. I formed my first modeling agency before I was twenty. While modeling I secured a re-occurring role in the popular daytime TV series General Hospital. Read more...