Monday, April 1, 2019
HALLANDALE BEACH - Reigning Eclipse Award winner Irad Ortiz Jr. claimed the 2018-2019 Championship Meet riding title at Gulfstream Park Sunday, prevailing over defending two-time titlist Luis Saez, 135-134.
“It feels great," Ortiz said. "I got a lot of support from the owners and trainers and my agent, Jay Rushing, does a great job. I have no words for how I feel now."
Saez rode the winners of Races 3, 4 and 9 Sunday to pull into a tie for the lead, but Ortiz came back to capture Race 10 with Scam to take a one-win edge into the final race of the day. The 26-year-old Puerto Rico-born jockey claimed the title when Saez finished second in Race 11.
“Luis is a great rider," Ortiz said. "He never gives up. I enjoyed everything. Everybody was asking all the numbers and everybody was watching."
Riding full time during the Championship Meet for the first time, Ortiz captured nine graded stakes races, including the inaugural $7 million Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational aboard Bricks and Mortar on Jan. 26.
Saez, who captured Saturday’s $1 million Xpressbet.com Florida Derby aboard Maximum Security, still holds the record for most wins during a season - 137 - set during the 2017-2018 season.
Jorge Navarro, who saddled X Y Jet for a victory in the $2 million Golden Shaheen on Saturday’s Dubai World Cup card, captured his first Championship Meet title with 53 victories, breaking Todd Pletcher’s string of 15 consecutive titles. Pletcher finished second after saddling winners at a 25-percent strike rate. Navarro client Joseph Besecker was the leading owner with 19 visits to the winner’s circle.
Live racing will return to Gulfstream for the start of the Spring Meet on Thursday. First-race post time for an eight-race opening day card is set for 1:15 p.m.
Sano Eyes Saratoga Stakes for Gunnevera
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Trainer Antonio Sano, who saddled Gunnevera for a third-place finish in Saturday’s $12 million Dubai World Cup, was back at Gulfstream Sunday in time to send out Farley for a 30-1 upset victory in the seventh race. Gunnevera, who trailed the field early under Emisael Jaramillo, staged a wide stretch rally to take the show spot behind victorious Thunder Snow and Gronkowski in the 1 ¼ -mile race at Meydan.
Sano said Gunnevera will be given a six-week break in Ocala before returning to training with a stakes start in Saratoga the primary goal.
Gulfstream Park is a Stronach Group company, North America’s leading Thoroughbred racetrack owner/operator. The Stronach Group racetracks include Santa Anita Park, Gulfstream Park & Casino, Golden Gate Fields, Portland Meadows, Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course, home of the world-famous Preakness. The company owns and operates the Palm Meadows Training Center in Florida, and is one of North America's top race horse breeders through its award-winning Adena Springs operation. The Stronach Group is one of the world's largest suppliers of pari-mutuel wagering systems, technologies and services. Its companies include AmTote, a global leader in wagering technology; XpressBet, an Internet and telephone account wagering service; and Monarch Content Management, which acts as a simulcast purchase and sales agent of horseracing content for numerous North American racetracks and wagering outlets. The Stronach Group is also a leading producer of social media content for the horseracing industry. For more information contact David Joseph at [email protected] or call 954.457.6451.