A pair of graded stakes victories and top rankings by earnings and wins was more than enough to secure Jockeys’ Guild Jockey of the Week Honors for Irad Ortiz, Jr. for the week ending August 13, 2017. 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 Animal Element’s Foundation Detox and Product X Performance Enhancer.
With multiple tracks across the country hosting graded stakes and festival days of racing, there were many jockeys securing one or even two stakes wins last week. But only Irad Ortiz, Jr. won a pair of graded stakes, and did so at two different tracks: Arlington on Saturday and Saratoga on Sunday.
One of the feature races on the Arlington Million card was the $600,000 Beverly D. Stakes (G1). In a field of ten of the world’s best turf fillies and mares, Ortiz and Chilean-bred Dacita ($15.80) were the fifth betting choice. The pair sat far back early, letting Zipessa set the early pace, before swinging four-wide out of the turn and settling in for a long rally down the stretch to win by half a length. Dona Bruja and Grand Jete, who went off as the favorite and second-favorite, respectively, ended the race in a dead heat for second.
Though Ortiz’ mount in the Arlington Million, local favorite The Pizza Man, could not replicate his 2015 Million win, Ortiz traveled to Saratoga in search of another graded stakes victory. On Sunday, Ortiz was aboard Copper Bullet ($9.10) for the first time in the colt’s four lifetime starts in the $200,000 Saratoga Special (G2). The pair stalked throughout the race and pulled away in the stretch, winning by four lengths. Copper Bullet broke his maiden in similar fashion at Churchill with an 8-length victory before finishing second in the Bashford Manor (G3).
In addition to his stakes wins, Ortiz topped the standings among all North American jockeys by total earnings, with $943,897, and was second only to Joel Rosario, winner of the Arlington Million (G1), by stakes earnings with $484,617. Ortiz is currently ranked fourth among all North America jockeys for total earnings year to date, with over $12 million earned in 2017. His lifetime earnings total now approaches $106 million.
Ortiz also led all North American jockeys by number of wins, with 12 last week out of 36 starts. He had a win rate of 33% and was in the money on 61% of his mounts. In 2017, he has won 187 of his 859 starts; lifetime, he is 1,617 for 9,117.
Dacita is a 6-year-old mare trained by Chad Brown for Sheep Pond Partners and Bradley Thoroughbreds. She was bred in Chile by Haras Paso Nevado, by Scat Daddy out of the Seeker’s Reward mare Daja. Saturday marked her fourth North America graded stakes win.
Copper Bullet, a 2-year-old colt by More Than Ready, is trained by Steve Asmussen for Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC and Willis Horton Racing LLC. He was bred in Kentucky by Dell Ridge Farm, LLC, out of Allegory, by Unbridled’s Song.