Saturday, February 23, 2019
HALLANDALE BEACH – Eclipse Award winner Irad Ortiz Jr. continued his recent hot hand by riding four winners, including his 100th of the 2018-19 Championship Meet Friday at Gulfstream Park.
The 26-year-old native of Puerto Rico hit the seasonal milestone with 1-2 favorite Matzo Bella ($3) in Race 6, a five-furlong turf race for maiden 3-year-old fillies. He also took Race 3 aboard 4-5 top choice Battle of Memphis ($3.80), Race 7 on 9-5 favorite Livin a Dream ($5.80) and Race 11 on 7-5 betting choice Mo’s Ride ($4.80).“It feels great. We’re doing so good right now,” Ortiz said. “My agent [Jay Rushing] does a great job and the owners and trainers help me a lot. They give me a lot of chances, so I just enjoy and do the best I can.”
Ortiz has registered 30 wins over the past nine racing days to overtake two-time defending champion Luis Saez as the meet’s leading rider. Ortiz, who received his first career Eclipse in last month’s ceremony at Gulfstream, now has put together nine consecutive multi-win days, including a six-win afternoon on Feb. 18.
“It’s been very hot the last couple weeks," Ortiz said. "I’m so blessed right now. I don’t think I’ve ever done this before, to be on that kind of roll. I’m just enjoying the moment and I’m so happy.”
In 2017-18, his first full winter at Gulfstream, Ortiz ranked second in both wins (101) and purses ($4.8 million), and became just the fourth rider in track history to reach 100 wins following Hall of Famer Javier Castellano, Paco Lopez and Saez. Winner of a meet-record 137 races last winter, Saez has been out serving a pair of five-day suspensions. Ortiz now holds a 102-84 lead over Saez in the standings, and also ranks first with more than $6.7 million in purse earnings.
Rainbow 6 Carryover Grows
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The 20-cent Rainbow 6 went unsolved for the sixth consecutive day Friday, and the carryover jackpot grew to $249,414.03 for today's’s 11-race program. A total of $184,512 was bet into the multi-race wager, which began with a carryover of $205,137.61 from Thursday’s card. Multiple tickets with all six winners Friday were each worth $153.
WHO'S HOT - Emisael Jaramillo visited the winner’s circle three times Friday, aboard Dance Till Dawn ($13.20) in Race 1, Gran Paraiso ($17.20) in Race 5 and High Flying Guy ($5.80) in Race 9.