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Jockey Eclipse Award belongs to Ortiz…but which one?

By Dick Powell

The Eclipse Award for jockeys is almost as tough as it was for trainers. The winner will definitely be named Ortiz but the question is, which one? Irad Jr. or Jose?

At first glance, Irad is the leader in total earnings and wins. That combination is usually more than enough. However, when you look at graded stakes wins, a different picture emerges.

Jose won the most graded races (35) for the year while Irad triumphed in 30. Then, when you narrow it down further to Grade 1s, Mike Smith won 13, Joel Rosario took 12 and Jose captured 10. Irad was tied for seventh place with six Grade 1 victories.

So, the numbers are jumbled and I am forced to go with the “eye” test. In this case, I have to go with Jose, who was sensational all year. He was spot on in the big races and has become a rider without weakness, able to handle any surface or distance.

It’s close but I am going with: 1) Jose Ortiz 2) Irad Ortiz Jr. and 3) Mike Smith.

The Eclipse Award for owners is complicated by the multi-layered partnership arrangements now in vogue. Instead of competing against each other, many have joined forces. What makes it even more confusing is that a horse may run with different owner silks in different races, so there is not always the visual connection of horse and owner silks that we used to have.

I voted for: 1) WinStar, China Horse Club, Starlight Stables and Head of Plains 2) Peter Brant 3) Hronis Racing.

Ignoring the one-race-in-America international horses leaves me with very few choices in the male turf horse category. Luckily, turf sprinting has some a long way and STORMY LIBERAL finished the season with four straight wins, including another Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) victory, to nose out the competition.

With those explanations out of the way, here is my complete ballot:

HORSE OF THE YEAR

  • Justify
  • Accelerate
  • Monomoy Girl

TWO-YEAR-OLD MALE

  • Game Winner
  • Call Paul
  • Complexity

TWO-YEAR-OLD FILLY

  • Jaywalk
  • Newspaperofrecord
  • Bellafina

 THREE-YEAR-OLD MALE

  • Justify
  • Catholic Boy
  • McKinzie

THREE-YEAR-OLD FILLY

  • Monomoy Girl
  • Midnight Bisou
  • Rushing Fall

OLDER DIRT MALE

  • Accelerate
  • City of Light
  • Diversify

OLDER DIRT FEMALE

  • Unique Bella
  • Abel Tasman
  • Marley’s Freedom

MALE SPRINTER

  • Roy H
  • Promises Fulfilled
  • Imperial Hint

FEMALE SPRINTER

  • Marley’s Freedom
  • Shamrock Rose
  • Dream Tree

MALE TURF HORSE

  • Stormy Liberal
  • Catapult
  • Glorious Empire

FEMALE TURF HORSE

  • Sister Charlie
  • A Raving Beauty
  • Uni

STEEPLECHASE HORSE

  • Optimus Prime
  • Zanjabeel
  • Balance the Budget

OWNER

  • WinStar, China Horse Club, Starlight Stables, Head of Plains
  • Peter Brant
  • Hronis Racing

BREEDER

  • John Gunther
  • Hertrich & Fielding
  • Stonestreet

JOCKEY

  • Jose Ortiz
  • Irad Ortiz Jr.
  • Mike Smith

APPRENTICE JOCKEY

  • Weston Hamilton
  • Reylu Gutierrez
  • Edgar Morales

TRAINER

  • Bob Baffert
  • Chad Brown
  • Steve Asmussen

Photo: Brother jockeys Jose Ortiz (left) and Irad Ortiz Jr. (right) (c) NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography/Adam Mooshian

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