01/06/2016 12:40PM

2015 Eclipse Awards: Irad Ortiz Jr.


Irad Ortiz Jr. had a year to remember in 2015. His mounts earned $23,546,727 to place him second among all riders in North America. Ortiz also won his first Saratoga title, captured the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf aboard Stephanie’s Kitten, and won the Grade 1 Belmont Oaks Invitational with his flagship mount, Lady Eli.

For that run of success, Ortiz is an Eclipse Award finalist for outstanding jockey of 2015.

Stephanie’s Kitten won back-to-back Grade 1 races under Ortiz, taking the Flower Bowl at Belmont Park before traveling to Keeneland for the Breeders’ Cup. In the Filly and Mare Turf on Oct. 31, she closed from last for a 1 1/4-length win.

“When I asked at the quarter pole, she took off,” said Ortiz, a 23-year-old native of Puerto Rico.

The season Ortiz crafted at Saratoga was filled with special moments. He celebrated his 1,000th career win during the meet. On Aug. 16, he became the first rider since Javier Castellano in 2013 to have a five-win day at Saratoga. And he partnered with Cavorting to win both the Test and Prioress. All told, Ortiz won 57 races last summer at the Spa.

“It’s a dream come true to win a title in Saratoga,” he said in September. “I’m so happy and so thankful to everyone who supports me. All the owners and trainers, everyone is involved in this title.”

Other notable moments for Ortiz in 2015 included winning the Spinster with Got Lucky and the Manhattan with Slumber. Overall, he ranked fourth in wins in North America with 300.