By Bob Ehalt
When the big ball in Times Square came down at midnight Dec. 31, it brought down the curtain on a record-breaking year that trainer Chad Brown and jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. will not soon forget.
The turning of the calendar to 2020 signaled an end to a sensational year in which they became the first practitioners of their professions to surpass $30 million in yearly North American earnings.
Ortiz not only became the first jockey to surpass the $30 million mark, he left the previous mark behind in a cloud of dust.
In a year in which he became the first jockey since Alex Solis in 2003 to win both the Breeders’ Cup Turf and Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) on the same card, Ortiz’s record earnings for 2019 checked in at $34,109,019.
“It wasn’t a fluke, what he did in 2019,” Weisbord said. “He rides hard 12 months a year. He didn’t get lucky. He’s out there breezing horses five days a week, and the only reason it’s not seven days a week is because his trainers are not breezing horses those days. Both brothers have a great work ethic. Irad is a great human being, and I can’t say enough good things about him.”