Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. capped off another big week on racing’s biggest stage when he won five races on Sunday’s Saratoga card. That effort helped Ortiz capture the Jockeys’ Guild Jockey of the Week honors. This week’s award was for the week of August 10th to August 16th. 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 23 year-old rider was the winningest jockey in New York last year. In winning those five races Sunday at Saratoga he extended his lead in the standings at the country’s most prestigious meet. Through 21 of 40 racing days, Ortiz leads two-time defending Saratoga riding champion and Eclipse Award winner Javier Castellano 34-27.
Ortiz won 278 times on the New York Racing Association circuit in 2014 and he is seeking his fifth meet riding title. This would be his first Saratoga riding title as he attempts to dethrone two-time defending champion Javier Castellano and hold off others such as John Velazquez, Luis Saez and his own brother Jose L. Ortiz, who is currently fourth in the rider standings.
“That’s the main goal,” Ortiz said. “Everybody wants to win the meet here. I’m working on it.”
The brothers, who live together during the Saratoga meeting, are supportive of each other’s quest to succeed. Irad Ortiz Jr. came to the mainland U.S. in the spring of 2011 and came right to New York. Jose Ortiz came in the early part of 2012 and, after beginning his career at Parx, wanted to join his brother in New York.
“I want the best for him, and he just told me, ‘I want to be in New York and be a New York rider,’ ’’ Irad Ortiz Jr. said. “I said, ‘Come and I’ll help you because you’re my brother,’ and I’m going to help him every time.”
Said Jose Ortiz: “He watches me, every time tries to help me. He’s a very good brother. He’s my teacher.”
It was the fourth career five-win day in New York for Ortiz and the first at Saratoga since Javier Castellano on September 2, 2013. Ortiz won five races on a card at Aqueduct in January and November of 2013 and December of 2012. Ortiz is currently the third leading rider in North America in money earned.
For the week Ortiz won 12 times from 37 starts with four seconds and six thirds for earnings of $773,590, which lead all riders for the week.
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.