All eyes in the North American racing world were focused on Elmont, New York Friday and Saturday so it is only fitting that Irad Ortiz, Jr., who scored an upset victory aboard Creator in the Belmont Stakes, was unanimously voted the Jockeys’ Guild Jockey of the Week for June 6th – June 12th. The award is voted on by a panel of experts for riding accomplishments by members of the Jockeys’ Guild, the organization which represents more than 950 riders in North America.
The 24 year-old began the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival on Friday by winning the Jersey Girl Stakes followed by the Grade 2 New York Stakes aboard Dacita (CHI). Ortiz would then start off Saturday by taking the Easy Goer Stakes aboard Economic Model. The Puerto Rican born rider capped off the day with his fourth stakes victory of the week by winning his first Belmont Stakes in dramatic fashion.
To win the 148th running of the Belmont Stakes, Creator and Irad Ortiz, Jr. would need the perfect trip to run down a very game Destin who took the lead with just over a quarter of a mile to go. Destin would grudgingly give that lead up in the final feet of the 1 ½ mile classic when Creator nailed him on the wire in a perfectly timed finish. It would be the first time aboard the talented colt for Ortiz, one of the leading local riders at Belmont for the last few seasons. Ortiz was the winner of the Belmont Fall 2015 meeting and currently sits second behind brother Jose for the spring 2016 session.
“I thought Irad gave him a perfect trip. I thought he saved yards and won by inches. He made the difference,” Trainer Steve Asmussen said. “He saved a lot of ground going into the first turn. I thought there was quite a bit of traffic around the quarter pole; Irad was beautifully patient. He went through a lot of traffic very smooth. I’m very proud of Creator; he stayed focused through the traffic and did all he could to get up and win a great race.”
Ortiz would also top all North American riders in wins for the week, capturing 11 from his 36 mounts. He would also lead all North American riders this week in total earnings with $1,916,539.
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JockeyTalk360.com spotlights the riders across North America and around the world who may be the bravest, toughest and most accomplished of all athletes. The Jockeys’ Guild Jockey of the Week is selected by a vote of representatives of America’s Best Racing, The Daily Racing Form, Equibase, Horse Racing Nation, The Jockeys’ Guild, The Paulick Report, The Thoroughbred Daily News, National Thoroughbred Racing Association, National Turf Writers and Broadcasters, Thoroughbred Racing Associations, and Turf Publicists of America.