Irad Ortiz, Jr. Voted Jockey Of The Week After Fourth Straight Shoemaker Award

Three-time Eclipse Award winner Irad Ortiz, Jr. travelled to the West Coast from his base in New York for the races at Del Mar Thoroughbred Club during Breeders’ Cup week. He returned to New York having won four stakes at Del Mar and put an exclamation point on his outstanding week by winning a stakes race at Belmont Park on Sunday. His accomplishments earned Jockey of the Week Nov. 1 through Nov. 7. The award, which is voted on by a panel of racing experts, is for jockeys who are members of the Jockeys’ Guild, the organization which represents more than 1050 active, retired and permanently disabled jockeys in the United States.

Breeders’ Cup weekend began with “Future Stars Friday” with all stakes races dedicated to two-year-olds. Riding for trainer John Sadler, Ortiz, Jr. was aboard Big Switch in the Golden State Juvenile Fillies Presented by PNC. Off in post position six in the field of eight, Big Switch took command in upper stretch and drew off to a convincing 2-3/4 lengths victory in 1:22.39 for six furlongs.

”I didn’t have to do much,” said Ortiz. “I had a good trip. She just ran and that’s all there was to it.”

Trainer Wesley Ward and Ortiz, Jr. combined for the third straight year to win the G2 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. This year Ortiz, Jr. was aboard Twilight Gleaming (IRE). The fastest out of the gate, Twilight Gleaming (IRE) led all the way to win by a half-length over Go Bears Go covering the five furlongs on the turf in :56.24.

On Saturday, the duo of trainer Wesley Ward and Ortiz, Jr. struck again with Golden Pal in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint. Golden Pal went right to the lead and was never pressured, posting a 1-1/4-length win for the five furlongs on the turf in: 54.75.

“I was happy to get the lead easily and he responded to me when I asked him for the run down the stretch,” said Ortiz, Jr.

The next race saw Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher give a leg up to Ortiz, Jr. on Life Is Good in the G1 Big Ass Fans Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. Life Is Good took command out of the gate and cruised to 5-3/4 lengths victory after a mild challenge from Ginobili.

“I had the perfect trip,” said Ortiz, Jr. “When we go to the quarter pole, he re-broke for me. What a nice horse to ride.”

Ortiz, Jr. was awarded the Bill Shoemaker Award for the fourth year in a row as Outstanding Jockey at the Breeders’ Cup.

Back to Belmont Park on Sunday, Ortiz, Jr. was aboard Orglandes (FR) for trainer Chad Brown in the Zagora for fillies and mares three-years-old and up going 1-1/2 miles on the Widener turf. Off as the favorite in the field of seven, Orglandes (FR) got up right before the wire to win by a neck over Beautiful Love and Joel Rosario in 2:29.28. Ortiz, Jr. also collected the leading rider title at Belmont Park.

Ortiz, Jr. outpolled Mitchell Murrill with the most wins for the week, Jose L. Ortiz with two G1 Breeders’ Cup victories, Joel Rosario with two G1 Breeders’ Cup wins and Chantal Sutherland with nine wins for the week.

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