01/06/2016 11:51AM

2015 Eclipse Awards: Angel Cruz


Angel Cruz is an Eclipse Award finalist for outstanding apprentice jockey for the second year in a row following a first half of 2015 in which he won the spring riding title at Aqueduct. Cruz also won the first four stakes races of his career before losing his apprentice allowance on May 18, 2015.

Cruz is a 20-year-old native of Puerto Rico. He won his first race on April 8, 2014, and during his initial year in the saddle won 119 races from 781 starts for mount earnings of $2,586,378. Cruz stayed hot into 2015, and for the apprentice portion of his season won 79 races from 415 starts. His mounts from that period earned $3,161,453.

Cruz’s crowning achievement came in April 2015, when as an apprentice he locked up the spring meet title at Aqueduct. He won 22 races from 93 mounts for a 24 percent win rate. Cruz also finished two wins ahead of Irad Ortiz Jr., who is an Eclipse Award finalist for outstanding jockey of 2015.

The first stakes win of Cruz’s career came March 21, 2015, aboard Bridget’s Big Luvy in the $100,000 Private Terms at Laurel. Cruz grew up in Maryland, the grandson of retired jockey Jose Hiraldo and nephew of retired jockey Joel Hiraldo. Bridget’s Big Luvy was a front-running, 2 1/2-length winner of the Private Terms.

“When he switched leads on the turn I was looking back because I knew I had so much horse,” Cruz told Daily Racing Form.

Cruz registered his other three stakes wins as an apprentice at Belmont Park.