Jockey Jose Lezcano won a stakes race and reached a career milestone all in one package on Friday.
He rode V. E. Day from last place to nail Charge Now by a head in the $100,000 Curlin at Saratoga Race Course to record his 2,000th victory.
“I feel very lucky to be in this business and do good,” Lezcano said.
“It looked like it was a little bit of a cavalry charge going into the turn there, and we were tucked in behind there, saving ourselves,” trainer Jimmy Jerkens said. “I thought if he liked the dirt good enough and was classy enough like I thought he was, I thought he’d be tough.”
Commanding Curve scratched out of the Curlin to run in today’s Jim Dandy, still leaving a competitive field of nine for the Curlin.
V. E. Day was making his stakes debut while coming off two straight wins at Belmont Park.
Lezcano, a 30-year-old Panamanian who rode Wise Dan three times last year, including the Breeders’ Cup Mile, was stuck on 1,999 for a few days, but hit 2,000 in dramatic fashion.
He’s been on V. E. Day, a son of English Channel, for all three of his victories.
“I saved ground the whole way, and when I asked him, he gave me a kick,” Lezcano said.
“He’s bred top to bottom turf and ran very well on turf last time, but he trained so well on dirt,” Jerkens said. “I wanted to give him a chance on dirt, and this was a nice spot to run him against straight 3-year-olds. I still don’t know if he’s better on turf or dirt, to be honest.”
Today NYRA will unite with racetracks across the country with autograph signings, photo opportunities and the first jockey foot race in 20 years at the Spa as part of the first Permanently Disabled Jockeys’ Fund (PDJF) Day Across America.
Every jockey riding at Saratoga today will be available during a one-hour autograph session outside the silks room beginning at 11:30 a.m.
Later in the day, a field of 13 jockeys will break from the starting gate and compete in a one-half furlong foot race on the main track. For a $5 donation, guests will be able to “bet” on their choice and be entered for a chance to win a “VIP Day at the Races” for two on Travers Day, Aug. 23 along with other prizes.
Filiberto Leon won the last jockey foot race at Saratoga in a photo finish over John Velazquez in 1995.
There are two former Kentucky Derby runners-up on today’s card.
Besides Commanding Curve in the Jim Dandy, 2013 runner-up Golden Soul is entered in the fifth race, a mile-and-an-eighth allowance.
Golden Soul has lost his last eight races by a combined 126 lengths.
Bow Tie Cinemas, in conjunction with the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, will be premiering the movie “50 to 1” at the Bow Tie’s downtown location at 19 Railroad Place on Aug. 1.
“50 to 1” tells the story of Mine That Bird, the long shot winner of the 2009 Kentucky Derby. The movie stars Skeet Ulrich, Christian Kane, William Devane and Hall of Fame jockey Calvin Borel as himself. It is directed by Jim Wilson, who won an Academy Award as the producer of “Dances With Wolves,” which won best picture in 1991.