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John Velazquez to ride Vino Rosso in Kentucky Derby

Jockey John Velazquez celebrates atop Always Dreaming after

Jockey John Velazquez celebrates atop Always Dreaming after winning the Kentucky Derby on May 6, 2017. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Patrick Smith

Even after winning three major Kentucky Derby preps, Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez was in a stressful spot. Which horse would give him his best chance for a second consecutive Derby win and a third overall?

Soon after taking the Wood Memorial on Vino Rosso on April 7, Velazquez picked that colt over Florida Derby champion Audible and Louisiana Derby winner Noble Indy. Audible is 4-for-5 lifetime, Noble Indy 3-for-4, and Vino Rosso 3-for-5.

“I believe he can get the [1¼-mile] distance,” Velazquez said after working him out Friday at Churchill Downs. “It was the distance I was looking for. It wasn’t an easy choice. They’re all good horses.

“I like the way Vino Rosso works in the mornings, and the way he gallops out better than the other two. He just keeps coming.”

Johnny V.’s decision pleased Nassau County resident Mike Repole, Vino Rosso’s co-owner. “It’s always good when Johnny is on one of my horses,” Repole wrote in an email to Newsday. “He’s one of the greatest jockeys of all time, and he gives me so much confidence that we will get the win.”

Around the track

Justify arrived in Louisville on Monday afternoon. He is expected to be made the Derby favorite when post positions are drawn Tuesday at 11 a.m. . . . Monomoy Girl, the 2-1 favorite, drew the outside post in a field of 14 for Friday’s Kentucky Oaks.

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