Less than two weeks after picking up his third consecutive Eclipse Award as the nation’s top jockey, Irad Ortiz Jr. illustrated why he owns an Eclipse trifecta: riding six winners on Saturday’s Gulfstream Park card.
Putting this into further perspective, Ortiz won half of Gulfstream’s 12-race Saturday card.
“You never think that you’re going to win that many races, but you come here positive,” Ortiz told Gulfstream Park. “You try to win every race. I ride all my horses with the same mind (and) I try to win, no matter what. I think that helps.”
Ortiz helped himself to quite the day. He opened with a natural hat trick, winning the second race aboard Hard Game ($8), the third on Noble Empire ($3) and the fourth on Bourbon in May ($7.60). Ortiz didn’t have a mount in the fifth race, but he came back in the sixth – the Suwannee River Stakes – with 1/5 favorite Great Island ($2.60).
Ortiz and Democracy Rule in Gulfstream’s Seventh
That segued into a seventh-race trip to the winner’s circle aboard Democracy ($15.60). At 6/1, that was Ortiz’s longest shot winner of the day. He wrapped up his six-pack with 9/5 favorite R. Mercedes Boy ($5.60) in the ninth.
Put it together and Ortiz won four of the first six races and five of the first seven.
“It’s pretty great,” he said. “You don’t have too many days like this, so I just enjoy it. For me, honestly, I go home and it’s just another day. Tomorrow, everybody will forget what happened today. I just move on.”
Ortiz Came Out of Gulfstream’s Gates Fast
That’s unlikely. Not the way Ortiz is dominating Gulfstream’s Championship Meet. He’s piloted a meet-leading 76 winners – 16 more than his closest pursuer, Luis Saez.
Betting Ortiz’s mounts cashes you a winning ticket 24% of the time in 2021 (45-for-185). Betting his mounts sends you to the window 53% of the time (98-for-185). That’s roughly on par with Ortiz’s 2020 numbers: 24% wins and 56% in-the-money finishes.
Speaking of Saez, he co-owns the Gulfstream record for most wins in a day – seven. Saez, who turned that trick twice in a two-month span in 2018, shared the mark with Jerry Bailey (1996), Tyler Gaffalione (2017) and Paco Lopez (2020).
Ortiz owns the last two Gulfstream Park riding titles. He led North American jockeys in wins the last four years and in earnings the last three. Last year, he won six Grade 1 stakes races.