by Brian Bohl
Jockey Jose Ortiz piloted Creed to a win in the fourth race at Belmont Park on Thursday, registering his 2,000th career victory. The 26-year-old’s milestone encompasses 17 wins from his native Puerto Rico.
Ortiz, who is credited by Equibase with his first North American victories in 2012, has already earned more than $156 million in purses and has compiled three wins in Breeders’ Cup races, starting with Oscar Performance in the 2016 Juvenile Turf and including Good Magic in the 2017 Juvenile and Structor in last year’s Juvenile Turf.
He led all jockeys in victories in 2016 with a whopping 351 and was the leading earner in 2017 with $27,318,875. Among the highlights of that campaign was his first victory in an American Classic, when he guided Tapwrit to victory in the Belmont Stakes, helping him earn the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey.
Ortiz, born in Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico, has been a dominant force on the NYRA circuit, including winning the prestigious Saratoga meet title three times in the last four years, including a 60-win effort in 2019 to add to his meet titles in 2016 and 2017.
On Thursday, Ortiz led Creed to a 7 ¾-length score in a 1 1/16-mile main-track route for maidens. Trained by Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey, Creed returned $7.60 on a $2 win bet for Ortiz’s milestone.
Ortiz is the same age as older brother Irad Ortiz, Jr. was when he notched 2,000 wins in 2018.