Two wins in Grade 1 events and top rankings by total and stakes earnings secured Jockeys' Guild Jockey of the Week Honors for Irad Ortiz, Jr. for the week ending October 9, 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.
Last weekend was the final major prep weekend for Breeders' Cup hopefuls to prepare for their divisions or even earn a berth through a Win and You're In Challenge race. With 50 stakes races, 18 of which were graded, voters were faced with a deep ballot of contenders for Jockey of the Week.
Even with all candidates winning multiple stakes, Irad Ortiz, Jr. emerged as the standout jockey from the holiday weekend of racing. Ortiz won three stakes, including two of the Grade 1 events offered at Belmont.
Ortiz' notable wins came on Saturday, when he swept the two Grade 1 races on the card. First, he won the $500,000 Champagne Stakes with Firenze Fire ($24.00) for trainer Jason Servis and owner/breeder Mr. Amore Stables. It was the first Grade 1 win for the Florida-bred colt, who is now three for four lifetime.
In the second Grade 1, the $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup, Ortiz rode Diversify ($9.80) home in a wire-to-wire victory, finishing one length ahead of favorite Keen Ice and Jose Ortiz. Diversify is trained by Richard Violette, Jr. for Lauren and Ralph Evans.
In addition to the winner's circle appearances, Ortiz also finished second in the $500,000 Flower Bowl (G1) with Dacita, a head behind winning horse War Flag, with Jose Ortiz aboard. Jose Ortiz was the clear second choice among voters on the week's ballot, winning not only the Flower Bowl but the Frizette (G1) with Separationofpowers and ranking second on the week's earnings standings.
Ortiz topped the total earnings standings for all North American jockeys with $1,428,851. He was also the leading rider by stakes earnings with $983,000 in seven stakes starts. Ortiz is currently ranked third among all North America jockeys for total earnings this year, with $17.8 million earned in 2017. His lifetime earnings total stands at $111,479,362.
Ortiz was the second leading jockey by number of wins, with 12 wins last week, just shy of Luis Contreras' week-leading 13 victories. He had a win rate of 25% and was in the money on 48% of his 48 mounts. In 2017 to date, he has won 242 of his 1,178 starts; lifetime, he is 1,672 for 9,436.
Due to holiday racing schedules for the Columbus Day/Indigenous Peoples' Day holiday weekend, statistics used for this week's ballot included Tuesday, October 2, through Monday, October 10.
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