Irad Ortiz, Jr. Wins Third Straight Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey

Irad Ortiz, Jr. | Lauren King

It's Irad Ortiz, Jr.'s world and we're all just living in it. The 28-year-old from Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico who has grown up into a superstar before the racing world's eyes continued his dominance in 2020, leading to a third consecutive Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey. While his total earnings dipped over $10 million from his 2020 sum, that can be almost entirely attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to the cancellation of much of the racing calendar through March and April and dramatic purse cuts that plagued the entire year, Ortiz was particularly cautious about the coronavirus, spending more than a month out of the saddle from Mar. 19 to Apr. 25. Nevertheless, he still paced all jockeys last year by banking over $23 million and once again proved his tireless work ethic by riding 1,271 horses despite his five-week break, a number that trailed just Tyler Gaffalione and Luis Saez among riders in the top 25 in earnings. Yet again leading the country in total wins, he also racked up 27 graded stakes wins–just one behind Flavien Prat for top billing–from 100 mounts and clearly led all jockeys with 52 stakes scores.

Following up on capturing his first GI Breeders' Cup Classic victory toward the end of 2019, Ortiz started 2020 off with a bang by piloting home Mucho Gusto (Mucho Macho Man) in the GI Pegasus World Cup Invitational S. He added top-level triumphs in the GI Whitney S. aboard Champion Older Dirt Male Improbable (City Zip), GI Jockey Club Gold Cup on Happy Saver (Super Saver), GI Breeders' Cup Sprint with Whitmore (Pleasantly Perfect) and GI Hollywood Derby on Domestic Spending (GB) (Kingman {GB}). In addition to Whitmore, he also scored with Golden Pal (Uncle Mo) in the GII Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint to bring his career World Championships wins to an even dozen.

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