by Keith McCalmont
Irad Ortiz, Jr. earned the Angel Cordero, Jr. Award for the third time overall and first since 2018, finishing with 59 wins to top younger brother Jose Ortiz [58 wins] and Joel Rosario  in third. Ortiz, Jr. won his first crown in 2015.
“It’s very special. My agent [Steve Rushing] did a great job and I’m very thankful for all the trainers and owners, without them I would not be here,” said Ortiz, Jr., who missed three days of racing late in the meet with a wrist injury. “After my injury, I had to take off a few days and they still named me on their horses and gave me the confidence and the opportunity.”
The 28-year-old native of Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico compiled a 59-47-43 record in 282 mounts, totaling earnings of more than $4.4 million with a winning percentage of better than 20 percent.
A memorable meet was highlighted by his winning ride aboard Improbable in the Grade 1 Whitney on August 1, part of a day in which he registered four wins in total. Trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, Improbable marked the second Whitney winner in three years for Ortiz, Jr., who also was victorious with Diversify in 2018.
Ortiz, Jr. won 10 stakes at the meet including graded scores in the Grade 3 Peter Pan aboard Country Grammer on Opening Day; the Grade 3 With Anticipation on Fire At Will; and the Grade 2 Honorable Miss with Come Dancing on Sunday.
The veteran rider won with 5-of-8 mounts on July 23rd during a 10-race card at the Spa, led by a victory aboard Fresco in the NYSSS Statue of Liberty.
Ortiz, Jr. said he enjoyed the daily competition with his brother.
“We have fun,” said Ortiz, Jr. “He wants the best for me and I want the best for him.”