01/08/2013 7:45PM

2012 Eclipse Awards: Irad Ortiz Jr.

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photo by: Barbara D. Livingston

Irad Ortiz Jr. completed his apprenticeship on Feb. 1, 2012, finishing off a freshman year of riding during which he won 98 races and had mount earnings of $3,318,303. He spent the rest of 2012 as an accomplished journeyman, winning significant races along the way and was voted by the Eclipse electorate as an apprentice jockey finalist.

Ortiz, 19, is a native of Puerto Rico who comes from a family of jockeys. His grandfather and an uncle both rode, while his younger brother, Jose, is currently an apprentice based at Aqueduct.

Ortiz launched his career in Puerto Rico, then shifted his tack to New York in spring 2011. He registered his first “stateside” win at Belmont Park on May 18, 2011. After losing his apprentice allowance, Ortiz embraced the role of journeyman and by the close of last summer had won Grade 1 races with Questing and Poseidon’s Warrior. He would later capture the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby with Handsome Mike.

“I’m feeling more confident in myself right now,” Ortiz told Daily Racing Form in December. “I know what I’m doing right now. Every day I’m learning more. I keep watching my replays and try to correct my mistakes in the races.”

Ortiz’s diligence – and talent – has earned him the support of a wide array of trainers, including Kiaran McLaughlin, for whom he won both the Alabama and Coaching Club American Oaks aboard Questing; Butch Reid, for whom he won the Alfred G. Vanderbilt with Poseidon’s Warrior; and David Jacobson, a perennial leading trainer in New York.

“He gets a lot of run out of horses,” Jacobson told Daily Racing Form.

Ortiz is currently based at Aqueduct.