When it comes to New York horse racing at this time of the year, the focus switches to the fall meet at Belmont Park and with a total purse of $11million on offer across 47 stakes, there is the ability for some jockeys to strike it incredibly rich.
Especially for those who lead their horses to the finishing line first and when it comes to who is the most dominant force within the New York racing scene, it is Irad Ortiz Jr who currently sits on top of the overall earnings list.
When looking at the statistics attached to the NYRA’s current meet, Ortiz Jr has 10 wins to his name, and shares the accolade of most successful jockey with his near namesake and racing rival Jose L. Ortiz.
Although nothing can split them in terms of victories at the time of writing, it is consistency which is arguably more important. Because with the wins offering nothing in the way of difference right now, the number of second place finishes is all the more important.
Of those that have been recorded to date, it is Ortiz Jr who comes out on top by 13 wins to 5 and as a consequence of this, he has nearly a $500k lead in the overall earnings list. Something which will only boost his career winnings even higher.
While with a slew of second place finishes to his name, Ortiz Jr really can be considered Mister Consistent and with 31 of his 65 starts recording a top three finish, it means that 48% of those starts will see him avoid finishing anywhere from fourth and below.
Such is his relative dominance, that for those who use online betting sites in New York, backing him to win is one of the shrewder wagers you can place and although nothing is a certainty in sport, this is as close as you can get.
Especially as the 29-year-old is absolutely fearsome in his pursuit of victory and with 2626 NYRA career wins to date, he has amassed an eye-watering sum of earnings since 2012 – a figure that will likely be $200m by the end of the year.
A figure that would be enough for readers of this article to live 200 lifetimes and still be in financial comfort and even if Ortiz Jr was a man known for huge largesse, he would still have more money than he could ever spend.
Still the prospect of constant remuneration is not the sole or even main reason why this jockey keeps doing what he does and quite simply, it is the addiction to winning that keeps him saddling up each year.
An addiction that luckily, he manages to find a constant fix for and after winning back-to-back riding titles in New York in 2014 and 2015 with 278 and 281 winners, respectively, he added his third year-end crown in 2017 with 296 winners.
Numbers that can only be considered as imperious and with a riding style that almost cowers his rivals into defeat before they’ve even set off, his counterparts need to be at their absolute best to come out on top.
Of course, all sportsmen and jockeys in particular can have an off day – especially as both they and their horse need to be in tandem, but even when the chips are supposedly down, he still has a knack of pulling victory out of the bag.
Something that was the case, when he won two Breeders’ Cup races in 2015, aboard Stephanie’s Kitten in the Filly & Mare Turf and Lady Shipman in the Turf Sprint and captured his third career Breeders’ Cup victory aboard Bar of Gold in the Filly & Mare Sprint.
The career highlights do not stop there, as he was Saratoga’s leading rider for Grade 1 wins in 2012 (Coaching Club American Oaks and Alabama with Questing, Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap with Poseidon’s Warrior) and also entered the Longines International Jockey Competition in 2014.
Quite simply this is a man who is almost a once in a generation racer and with his grandfather and uncle also racing in generations before him, the Ortiz legacy is one that will certainly live on in New York racing circles.