Irad Ortiz Jr. Sets New Championship Meet Win Record At Gulfstream Park

Irad Ortiz Jr. set the single-season Championship Meet win record in style Saturday at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla., guiding St. Elias Stable’s homebred Known Agenda to a 2 ¾-length victory in the $750,000 Curlin Florida Derby (G1) presented by Hill ‘n’ Dale Farms at Xalapa.

It was the first career win in Gulfstream’s signature race for the 28-year-old Ortiz and his 138th during the country’s premier winter stand, surpassing Luis Saez’s mark of 137 set in 2017-18. Ortiz approached the record in 2018-19, but finished with 135.

“It means a lot. We work so hard. I feels so good to get the feedback from the owners and the trainers. They support me. I say thanks to all of them,” Ortiz said. “When I say all of them, I mean all of them – from the claiming races to the stakes races. We have a lot of respect for Luis. It wasn’t easy. He wins a lot of races here, too. We are so happy.”

Ortiz also was tops with 115 wins in 2019-20, and is now only the fourth jockey in history to win at least three consecutive Gulfstream riding titles joining Hall of Famer Javier Castellano, who won five straight from 2011-12 to 2015-16, Jorge Chavez (1999-2001) and Jeff Fell (1977-79).

Earlier Saturday, Ortiz tied the record aboard Joseph Imbesi’s Sweet Bye and Bye in the $100,000 Sand Springs. He now has 14 stakes wins at the meet, including Grade 1 triumphs in the Florida Derby and $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational, the latter with Colonel Liam. Both Known Agenda and Colonel Liam are trained by Todd Pletcher.

The three-time defending Eclipse Award winner as champion jockey, Ortiz has posted 43 multi-win days at Gulfstream this winter, including a six-win effort Feb. 6 that fell just one short of the track’s single-day record shared by Saez, Tyler Gaffalione and Hall of Famer Jerry Bailey.

Represented by agent Jay Rushing, Ortiz has also registered five five-win days, seven four-win days and nine three-win days during the Championship Meet.

“It means a lot. We ride a lot of races here and I always like to win. We try all the time but we can’t win every meet. We try so hard and it’s special,” Ortiz said. “My agent does hard work and I get a lot of support from the owners and trainers and I appreciate that. It means a lot honestly. I really like this meet. It’s like summer, good weather, and the people here are big fans. They support all the jockeys so I’m really happy.”

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