Velazquez happy to ponder Brooklyn Strong targets

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Pimlico Racecourse
May 18, 2019; Baltimore, MD, USA; Tyler Gaffalione aboard War of Will (1) wins the 144th running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Daniel Velazquez basked in the glory of a maiden graded stakes success in his training career after seeing Brooklyn Strong take out the $150,000 Remsen at Aqueduct.

It was a breakthrough success for the trainer and he’s delighted to have the headache of now considering where to aim next.

The Wicked Strong colt battled gamely to the outside of Ten For Ten down the home stretch to earn the verdict under jockey Joel Rosario.

Winning the 1m1f two-year-old race gave Brooklyn Strong ten qualifying points for the 2021 Kentucky Derby.

The $250,000 Withers, a Grade 3 contest scheduled for Aqueduct on February 6th could be next. The winner there will collect another ten Kentucky Derby qualifying points, with each of the top four rewarded with ‘Run for the Roses’ points.

Watching the Remsen unfold was a proper thrill for Velazquez, he admits.

“We were so excited. We knew going in that it would be a step up in class against open company and he proved us right,” Velazquez said.

“Right now, we just want to make sure we come back healthy. We’ll give him a week or two to decompress, maybe Florida, maybe the Withers. We have options, it’s just a matter if figuring out what’s best.”

The son of Alfredo Velazquez, who plotted the path of Private Zone to Grade 1 victories in the 2014 Vosburgh and Cigar Mile, is enjoying a satisfying spell.

Brooklyn Strong had previously sampled victory in the Sleepy Hollow on Empire Showcase Day at Belmont Park in October, while Laobanonaprayer took out the Maid of the Mist the same day.

The New York-bred Brooklyn Strong was picked up for a bargain fee of $5,000 at the OBS April Two-Year-Olds in Training Sale by owner Mark Schwartz.

His ascent to graded stakes success marks a clear progress in the career of his trainer and Velazquez admits it’s hard to fathom how quickly success can arrive once the touch paper has been lit. He’s in no doubt however that the team around him are seeing the result of their endeavours.

“It’s been getting better and better. A lot of hard work going into it,” Velazquez added. “It’s almost unbelievable, we’re all still shell shocked.”

Velazquez breached the $1m barrier in terms of prizemoney in a calendar year for the first time in 2019, saddling career-high 41 winners from 208 starters. He’s had less runners (134) and fewer winners (27) in a truncated 2020 season but is now with $15k of again going into seven-figures in prizemoney won this year.