by Keith McCalmont
Irad Ortiz, Jr. enjoyed a tremendous day at the races, winning with 5-of-8 mounts on Thursday's 10-race card at Saratoga Race Course.
The veteran jockey, a two-time leading rider at Saratoga [2015, 2018], moved into a tie for second position in the jockey standings with his brother, Jose Ortiz, each with 10 wins, just one short of Joel Rosario.
"When you have the right horses, they make you look good," said Ortiz, Jr. "Days like this are great. To win five races in one day at any track is so special. You work so hard in this business and on days like this all that hard work pays off."
Ortiz, Jr. kicked off the flat racing portion of Thursday's program by guiding Thomas Shelby [No. 6, $6.50] to a claiming score for owner-trainer Wesley Ward. Two races later in Race 4, he captured the NYSSS Statue of Liberty for the second straight year by piloting Fresco [No. 1, $3] to a memorable maiden win for leading trainer Christophe Clement.
The veteran rider followed up in Race 5 with a prominent score aboard Irish Front [No. 5, $9.50], a Waterford Stable homebred son of Summer Front trained by Todd Pletcher. In Race 7, he guided Bertranda [No. 10, $6.70] to an in-hand allowance optional-claiming event for trainer Mertkan Kantarmaci.
Ortiz, Jr. added his fifth win on the card in Race 9 when Admiral Lynch [No. 3, $16.80] sprinted to convincing score over 8-5 mutuel favorite Honest Mischief.
On July 31, 2019, Ortiz, Jr. also won five races in one card at Saratoga, going 5-for-7 on the day of his NYSSS Statue of Liberty score aboard Kid Is Frosty.
Hall of Famer Ramon Dominguez twice won six races on a Saratoga card in 2012 and Hall of Famer John Velazquez also notched six in one card at the Spa in 2001.