After receiving his second straight Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey on Thursday night and winning the prestigious $3 Million Pegasus World Cup on Saturday, Irad Ortiz, Jr. was voted the Jockeys’ Guild Foundation Detox Jockey of the Week for January 21-26. 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. Jockey of the Week is sponsored by FoundationDetox.com, removing the toxins that affect our equine athletes.
The talented and energetic Puerto Rican traveled Friday to Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, climbing aboard four mounts on opening day. Ortiz won a maiden special weight on Villainous ($15.60), finished second on Three Technique ($4.20) in the Smarty Jones Stakes, and then piloted Ring Leader ($26.60) to victory in an allowance race to complete the day.
Returning to Florida and Gulfstream Park on Saturday, Ortiz was committed to ten mounts on the big day card, including the Bob Baffert trained, Mucho Gusto in the Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes presented by Runhappy. The journeyman chose to ride the son of Mucho Macho Man after the colt completed an impressive six-furlong work from the starting gate at Santa Anita, the week prior.
Leading up to the 4th running of the Pegasus World Cup Invitational, Ortiz rode Jean Elizabeth ($7.60) for trainer Larry Rivelli to win the $150,000 Ladies Turf Sprint Stakes and then returned to the winners circle two races later aboard the J. Kent Sweezey trained Phat Man ($15.40) in the $150,000 Fred W. Hooper Stakes (G3).
In the premiere event, Ortiz and Mucho Gusto broke sharply from the gate and established a forward position toward the inside rail for the first three quarters. The jockey then eased the colt to the outside of the two leaders coming to the 1/4th pole and shot to the front and took command turning for home, drawing clear of the field to a convincing four and a half-length victory, paying $8.80 for the win. His dominant performance earned the son of Mucho Macho Man an invitation to the $20 Million Saudi Cup to be held on February 29th.
Ortiz completed the week as the Nation’s leading jockey in wins and total earnings of $2,270,426. From his 33 mounts, Ortiz won at a 33% rate, totaling 11 wins, five seconds, and four third place finishes. Ortiz is currently North America’s leading jockey in 2020 with 38 wins from 155 starts. In his young and prosperous career, he’s been victorious 2,456 times out of 13,038 starts and his mounts have earned $181,558,815 to date.
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