Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez, in just his second day back from injury, rode Authenticity to victory in the $335,100 La Troienne Stakes at Churchill Downs Friday.
"This is a huge win for us on a number of fronts," noted winning trainer Todd Pletcher. "This mare has been working in company with (Kentucky Derby starter) Verrazano. That goes a long way toward solidifying what he's been doing. It is also Johnny's first win back in only his second ride. And we're winning a good race against a good mare (On Fire Baby). So it was good, good, good."
Velazquez returned Thursday at Belmont Park before heading to Louisville. He suffered minor fractures on April 7 when his mount fell during a race at Aqueduct.
The veteran jockey guided Authenticity to a head victory over On Fire Baby in the La Troienne with even-money favorite Believe You Can third in the seven- horse field.
"I said to Todd, 'I hope she breaks the same way she did in Florida,' and she did," Velazquez said. "I took a position. The other horse (On Fire Baby) was right there next to me. She was going nice and easy. I just left her alone and went from there. I asked her to run and she ran and the other horse was coming at me. I wasn't sure, but every time the other horse came to her, she gave another spurt. I'm feeling great. It's great to be here."
Velazquez will be aboard Verrazano in the Run for the Roses. The pair will break from post 14 in the 19-horse field.
"He's a horse who's done everything right," said Velazquez of Verrazano, the 4-1 second choice on the Derby morning line behind 7-2 favorite Orb. "He worked very well at Churchill Downs last week. I'm not surprised they made Orb the favorite; he's a very, very good horse."