By Kristin Bechthold
Denny Velazquez is a jockey that brings his passion to the racetrack every morning. He considers his career a dream come true and claims that it is “better than being anything in the world.” He also brings an undying enthusiasm to the sport and loves the atmosphere of the crowd at Canterbury Park. “I’m outgoing and spontaneous. I like to entertain people. I’ve always been ‘the funny guy,’” he said.
Velazquez made is career debut here at Canterbury Park when he was just sixteen years old. He considers one of the best days of his life to be when he got his first jockey’s license. As of today, he has been racing for six years.
Velazquez grew up in the small town of Jones, Oklahoma, which he refers to as “the middle of nowhere.” He grew up around horses and racing since his father was a trainer, who taught him everything he knows about horses and riding. “I always wanted to be a jockey,” he said. He received a pony for his eighth birthday and started galloping horses at Remington Park at just twelve years old.
If he wasn’t riding, Velazquez would like to be a concrete worker. In addition to being a racehorse trainer, his father is also a contractor and taught him how to work with concrete, as well. “I always liked it,” he said.” “I like to work with my hands.”
Outside of racing, Velazquez’s hobbies are golfing and fishing. “I’m not a very good golfer, but I like to do it,” he said. Although he likes to golf all over, he enjoys Minnesota for fishing.
Velazquez now races at Hawthorne Race Course in Chicago and Fair Grounds Race Course in New Orleans in addition to Canterbury. His goals for the future are to improve his riding, keep learning, and ride horses that may elevate his career.