OZONE PARK, N.Y. – The sibling battle for an Eclipse Award will play out coast to coast this coming weekend.
Irad Ortiz Jr. is hoping to dethrone his brother José as the Eclipse Award-winning jockey for 2018 and is hoping one more big weekend can seal the deal.
Entering the final five weeks of the year, Irad Ortiz Jr. leads the nation in wins (314) and purse money won ($26,143,923). José ranks third in wins (252) – Tim Thornton has 253 – and second in purse money won ($25,663,559).
The brothers have each won 62 stakes races. José has won 34 graded stakes including nine Grade 1’s, while Irad has won 30 graded stakes and six Grade 1’s. Irad won two Breeders’ Cup races – the Juvenile Fillies Turf and Filly and Mare Sprint – while José did not win a Breeders’ Cup race. José Ortiz’s biggest wins this year include the Haskell with Good Magic and the Alabama with Eskimo Kisses. Irad’s biggest wins include the Whitney with Diversify and the Arlington Million with Robert Bruce.
Irad Ortiz also won the major meet riding titles in New York, including Saratoga and both the Belmont spring and fall meets.
“I got the chance to win the Eclipse. … I think this is the year and I’m going to work harder than ever to try and get it,” Irad, 26, said. “I always wanted to get one, it’s just how the year goes and I had a great year and hopefully I can keep going the last month.”
Irad Ortiz rides Sunny Ridge in Saturday’s Grade 1, $750,000 Cigar Mile at Aqueduct and Rymska in Sunday’s Grade 1, $300,000 Matriarch at Del Mar.
José Ortiz, who won his first Eclipse Award last year, is hoping to make up some ground on his brother this weekend when he rides Patternrecognition in the Cigar and Quidura in the Matriarch.
“It’s really very tight,” Jose, 25, said. “He’s had a great year, but it’s not like I had a bad year. Right now he’s got a couple of hundred thousand dollars more than me, but I think I won more [graded] stakes.
After this weekend, the Ortiz brothers will move their tack to South Florida’s Gulfstream Park for that track’s winter meet.
This story originally appeared on DRF.com.
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