Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. made it back to back wins in the Grade 1 Flower Bowl Stakes aboard Stephanie’s Kitten when taking the 2015 running at Belmont Park on Saturday. That win and another Grade 1 victory the following day helped Ortiz win the Jockeys’ Guild Jockey of the Week award for September 28th – October 4th. 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.
With a patient ride by Irad Ortiz Jr., Stephanie’s Kitten landed her second consecutive victory in the $500,000 Flower Bowl Stakes and her first Grade 1 of the season at 1 1/4 miles on a soft Belmont Park turf course.
The Flower Bowl victory gave Ortiz his fourth win on the day. He is the meets current leading rider with 24 wins from 117 starts. Ortiz said he benefited from a ground-saving trip on a surface Stephanie’s Kitten loved today. “She was so game in the stretch, and everything went perfect,” the jockey said. “She’s so confident over it.”
Ortiz showed that he is a big-race rider on any stage as he took the mount aboard Got Lucky the next day at historic Keeneland Racecourse in the Grade 1 Juddmonte Spinster Stakes. Off at odds of 7-2 in a field of nine, Got Lucky settled at the back of the pack early for Irad, as Longines Kentucky Oaks winner Lovely Maria showed the way early on.
Rounding the turn for home it was Got Lucky who found just enough ground to secure the victory rolling home to win by just a neck in a well-timed move by Ortiz.
“I followed (Pletcher’s) instructions,” Ortiz said. “Last time I was a little too far back. She came late. Today she broke good. I was in the back, and she came running at the end. I wanted to save ground. I stayed close to the rail and then swung her out. When she got clear, she took off. I thought I had a pretty good shot (to win).”
The trip over the track was also perfect timing for Ortiz who is surely to return later in the month for the Breeders’ Cup Championship races to be run at Keeneland on October 30th and 31st.
For the week Ortiz had 11 winners from 41 starts with four seconds and seven third place finishes for earnings of $1,185,715.
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, 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.