Two of the leading jockeys in the country did not ride in the 2020 Kentucky Derby on Saturday, Sept. 5. But brothers Jose Ortiz and Irad Ortiz Jr. are right at home at Saratoga Race Course, battling in the deep stretch for the summer meet jockey title.
The Saratoga jockey standings show both riders have 57 wins heading into the final day of the Spa’s summer meet on Labor Day. Each jockey has won 21% of their starts. Jose is making up ground in the deep stretch with seven winners in the past three days. Irad is trying to hold onto the lead toward the wire with three wins over the past three days.
LABOR DAY RACING SCHEDULE AT SARATOGA
On Monday, Sept. 7, Saratoga has a special holiday racing schedule with 14 races. The featured race is the Grade 1 Runhappy Hopeful Stakes for 2-year-olds and a $250,000 purse.
Jose has 12 mounts on Labor Day and will ride the morning line favorite in three races. He also has the close second favorite in two races, with one of those against Irad who rides the favorite in Race 7.
Irad has 12 mounts and rides five favorites Monday at Saratoga. He’s also on the 8/5 second choice Reinvestment Risk in the Hopeful Stakes while Jose rides Papetu (10/1). The favorite in the Hopeful is Jackie’s Warrior (7/5) ridden by Joel Rosario, who is third at the Saratoga summer meet with 47 wins.
BROTHERLY LOVE, SUCCESS AND RIVALRY
The Ortiz brothers combined have won the last five riding championships at Saratoga. Since 2015, Irad has won two Saratoga summer meet titles, and Jose has won three. Irad is 28 years old and Jose turns 27 on Oct. 2. The Puerto Rican jockeys have been riding on the New York Thoroughbred Horse Racing circuit since 2012.
Irad won the shortened Belmont meet title this spring/summer with 34 wins. He’s won more than 10 riding titles on the New York circuit (NYRA) between Saratoga, Belmont and Aqueduct. Jose was second in the Belmont spring/summer meet with 29 wins.
Irad won the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey in 2018 and 2019 after leading the jockey list in both number of wins and earnings. He’s finished in the top five on the jockeys’ year-end earnings list for seven straight years and currently leads all jockeys in the country in 2020 earnings with $13.2 million — $2 million more than fellow NYRA rider Joel Rosario. Jose Ortiz is currently No. 7 on the 2020 earnings list. In 2019, Irad rode four Breeders’ Cup winners including in the richest race, the $6 million Classic. Irad has one Triple Crown win, in the 2016 Belmont Stakes.
Jose won the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey in 2017 after he led the earnings list, and he won his first Triple Crown race in the 2017 Belmont Stakes. In 2016, Jose was the leading jockey in North America by number of wins, and picked up his first win at the Breeders’ Cup. Jose has ranked in the top five on the jockeys’ year-end earnings list for six straight years.