Irad Ortiz Jr. is on a tear, ladies and gentlemen. The three-time Eclipse Award jockey is currently winning at a 28% rate, which is the highest percentage he's ever achieved in his career. He topped his previous best of 24% from last year, 2020.
His dominance was on full display throughout Saturday's Wood Memorial card. He won six races out of an eleven race program, and finished second in two other races. After the day's card, Irad Ortiz Jr. commented:
"It's been great. I keep getting a lot of support from my people," said Ortiz, Jr. "It feels great to be back. I got four winners on Thursday, two yesterday and six more today. I'm very thankful for all the support." (NYRA, Ryan Martin)
Here's an overview of Irad Ortiz Jr.'s Saturday performance:
Race 1 — 2nd place — MY DELICIOUS
Race 3 — 1st place — GREAT WORKOUT
Race 4 — 1st place — DRAIN THE CLOCK ($200K Bay Shore Stakes-G3)
Race 6 — 1st place — MISCHEVIOUS ALEX ($300K Carter Handicap-G1)
Race 7 — 1st place — FLIGHTY LADY
Race 8 — 2nd place — HAIKAL ($150K Excelsior Stakes-G3)
Race 9 — 1st place — SEARCH RESULTS ($250K Gazelle Stakes-G3)
Race 11 —1st place — MICHAEL'S BAD BOY
Unfortunately for Irad Ortiz Jr., he was not victorious in the feature race of the evening, the $750K Wood Memorial Stakes. Although he rode the $2.35 to win favorite RISK TAKING for trainer Chad Brown, they finished seventh in the field of nine. The winner was 72-1 shot BOURBONIC, ridden by Kendrick Carmouch and trained by Todd Pletcher. Nevertheless, Irad Ortiz Jr. rode excellent all day. He finished in the money 9 out of 11 times!
Irad Ortiz Jr. comes off a phenomenal Gulfstream Park meet this past winter. He set the single-season win record of 138 wins, surpassing 137 wins by Luis Saez. He was named leading rider, and joined the ranks of Javier Castellano, Jorge Chavez, and Jeff Fell as the only jockeys in history to win at least three riding titles at Gulfstream Park.
He takes his success with humbleness and class. After winning his riding title at Gulfstream, he commented how it felt good to get feedback from the owners and trainers, and he thanks all of them, from the claiming races to the stakes races. (Paulick Report)
Irad Ortiz Jr. won Eclipse Award Outstanding Jockey for 2018, 2019, and 2020. If he continues his tear, he'll be on track for his fourth honor in a row.