Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. won four races on opening day at Saratoga Racecourse on Friday and captured two graded stakes in the first three days of the meet on his way to this week’s Jockeys’ Guild Jockey of the Week award for July 18- July 24. 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.
Ortiz had already recorded two winners on the opening day Friday card before taking a leg up on the Chad Brown trained Ancient Secret in the featured 9th race, the Gr. 2 Lake George Stakes.
“It was a great opportunity to win three races on Opening Day,” said Ortiz, Jr., who then went on to win the last race aboard the Chad Brown-trained Market Strength. “We are on the right path and I’m looking to keep on going. Nothing’s over until it’s over, there are still a lot of races left in the meet.”
The 23 year-old native of Puerto Rico would add a fifth win of the meet late Saturday afternoon when piloting a hard charging Dacita (CHI) from well back to win the Gr. 1, $500,000 Diana for fillies and mares 3-years-old-and-up.
Dacita (CHI) went six-wide turning for home and rallied on the far outside, moving from sixth at the top of the stretch to hit the wire first in a thrilling finish in the Diana. It was the first of 18 Grade 1 events in the Saratoga meet that runs through September 5.
“Dacita loves Saratoga and she knows where the wire is,” Brown said. “Irad was patient and worked out another great trip for Dacita, and they timed it just right.”
Since coming to the United States from Trujillo Alto in Puerto Rico, where he won 83 races, Ortiz has won multiple riding titles on the New York circuit. He was a graduate of that country’s Escuela Vocacional Hípica, a school for prospective jockeys. His grandfather, also named Irad Ortiz, was a jockey, and so is his uncle, Ivan Ortiz, and brother, Jose Ortiz.
In 2015 Ortiz Jr. was second in total earnings among North American riders and fourth in total wins while riding the entire year in one of the best colonies in America on the NYRA circuit.
For the week, Ortiz Jr. won a total of six races from 25 starts with three second placings and seven more third place finishes. His earnings of $668,482 led all North American riders.
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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.