Jose Lezcano secures 3,000th career win

May 6, 2022

ELMONT, N.Y. – Jockey Jose Lezcano secured his 3,000th career win in style, piloting the Todd Pletcher-trained First Constitution gate-to-wire in Friday’s $100,000 Flat Out, an 11-furlong main track test for older horses, at Belmont Park.

Lezcano was all smiles in the winner’s circle as he expressed his appreciation at reaching the milestone.

“I’m very thankful for the trainers and owners who give me the chance to ride these nice horses and win all these races,” Lezcano said. “It’s very special to win it with Todd and for him to give me a nice horse like that. To win my 3,000th race in a race like this is nice.”

Owned by Don Alberto Stable, WinStar Farm, and Twin Creeks Racing Stables, First Constitution was a Group 1-winner in his native Chile before joining the Pletcher stable last year. The 5-year-old Constitution chestnut captured the Jazil, with Lezcano up, in January at Aqueduct Racetrack to notch his first North American win. He entered the Flat Out from a third-place finish in the Excelsior in April at the Big A.

First Constitution broke alertly from post 2 and immediately took command as Blewitt angled off the rail from his inside post to stalk from second position as the opening quarter-mile ticked by in 24.65 seconds over the sloppy and sealed main track.

Lezcano worked to settle a headstrong First Constitution as they led the field out of the first turn with Blewitt continuing to track in second to the inside of Warrior in Chief, with a long gap back to Will E Sutton, Locally Owned and Portos through a half-mile in 49.09.

Dylan Davis urged Locally Owned into contention down the backstretch as First Constitution continued to lead the march through three-quarters in 1:13.52. Locally Owned angled outside rivals into the final turn with the Kendrick Carmouche-piloted Portos following his run, but First Constitution continued to find more and opened up a five-length lead at the stretch call.

Portos easily overtook Locally Owned in the battle for place honors as Lezcano and First Constitution surged to the wire a four-length winner in a final time of 2:18.37. Portos completed a Pletcher-trained exacta by 6 1/2-lengths over Locally Owned. Blewitt, Warrior in Chief and Will E Sutton rounded out the order of finish.

Lezcano said he felt confident once he settled First Constitution into a good rhythm.

“I wanted to break good and put him in the bridle early. I sent him a little bit out of the gate and he jumped in the bridle so quick. When I grabbed a little bit, he dropped his head and relaxed a little and gave me a good race,” Lezcano said.

Lezcano, a 37-year-old native of Chiriquí, Panama, began riding horses on his father’s farm before attending the Laffit Pincay, Jr. Jockey School in Panama. After moving to the United States in 2003, Lezcano made his first American start on March 14, 2004 at Gulfstream Park and won his first race one race later on the same card, taking a maiden claimer aboard Cloudy Gray.

In 2006, Lezcano split his time between the Florida circuit and at several tracks in the northeast, earning the leading riding titles for meetings at The Meadowlands and Tampa Bay Downs. Lezcano secured his first NYRA riding title in 2019, guiding 44 horses to victory at the Belmont spring/summer meeting. His other riding titles include three more at The Meadowlands, Tampa Bay Downs and Monmouth Park in 2008 and one at Gulfstream in 2009.

Since earning his first graded stakes win aboard R Lady Joy in the 2005 Grade 2 Delaware Oaks, Lezcano has earned 126 other graded wins, including three Breeders’ Cup triumphs. They include Maram in the 2008 Juvenile Fillies Turf, Royal Delta in the 2011 Ladies’ Classic and Wise Dan in the 2013 Mile.

“I rode Royal Delta and she was a wonderful filly,” Lezcano said. “Bill Mott gave me the opportunity to ride such a nice horse like her and plenty of other nice horses like To Honor and Serve. Other trainers gave me big chances on good horses, too. Charlie LoPresti gave me the chance to ride Wise Dan – he was one of the top horses for a couple years. It feels very nice to ride these kinds of horses.”

His Grade 1 wins on the NYRA circuit include the Jamaica Handicap [Prince Will I Am, 2010], the Alabama [Royal Delta, 2010], the Cigar Mile Handicap [To Honor and Serve, 2011], the Man o’ War [Point of Entry, 2012], the Diana [Laughing, 2013], the Flower Bowl [Laughing, 2013], the Jockey Club Gold Cup [Ron the Greek, 2013], the Frizette [Artemis Agrotera, 2013], the Belmont Derby [Mr Speaker, 2014, Henley’s Joy, 2019], the Ogden Phipps [Wedding Toast, 2015], the Beldame [Wedding Toast, 2015], the Fourtstardave [Voodoo Song, 2018], the Personal Ensign [Vexatious, 2019] and most recently, the Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap [Lexitonian, 2021].

Byron Hughes, Pletcher’s New York-based assistant, praised Lezcano for a perfect trip aboard First Constitution.

“We were hoping he would make an easy lead and Jose did a great job to get him out there,” Hughes said. “He was a little rank going into the first turn but Jose got him settled down the backside, and he kicked away from them down the stretch. It was a nice win.”

Bred in Chile by Haras Don Alberto, First Constitution banked $55,000 in victory while improving his record to 11-5-2-3. He returned $4.10 for a $2 win ticket.

Live racing resumes Saturday at Belmont Park with an 11-race card featuring the Grade 2, $200,000 Sheepshead Bay in Race 3, the Grade 2, $200,000 Fort Marcy in Race 8, and the Grade 3, $200,000 Westchester in Race 10. First post is 12:20 p.m. Eastern.

America’s Day at the Races will present daily coverage and analysis of the spring/summer meet at Belmont Park on the networks of FOX Sports. For the complete broadcast schedule, visit https://www.nyra.com/belmont/racing/tv-schedule.

NYRA Press Release

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