Irad Ortiz, Jr. all smiles after winning his seventh race in a row (Ryan Thompson)
By Ashley Tamulonis
Any day a jockey rides a winner is a good day. Riding several winners makes for a great day. But winning seven consecutive races equates to an exceptional day. Just ask Frankie Dettori…and now Irad Ortiz, Jr. The Puerto Rican native set the racing world abuzz this afternoon when he equaled the mark set by the Hall of Famer in 1996.
Four other jockeys have previously had a 7-win day at Gulfstream. Jerry Bailey set the standard in 1996. No one equaled that feat at Gulfstream until Tyler Gaffalione managed to do so in 2017. Luis Saez then did it twice in 2018, and Paco Lopez was the most recent 7-win rider in 2020. However, none of those four won seven consecutive races, making Irad Ortiz, Jr. the first to accomplish that particular feat at the south Florida track.
Ortiz, Jr. had a mount in all nine races on the card, but his brilliant day began in the second race when he piloted Dignified to victory in a 7-furlong claiming race. He proceeded to tally wins in races three through eight with Little Jewel, Lakota Territory, Riveting Spirit, Tape to Tape, Rhymes Like Dimes, and Six Minus, in that order. Little Jewel, Riveting Spirit, Tape to Tape, and Rhymes Like Dimes were all favored to win, and Dignified, Lakota Territory, and Six Minus were the second betting choice in their respective races.
Ortiz, Jr. appeared set to make it a record-breaking 8 consecutive wins as he was aboard Turn on the Charm, the second choice, in the ninth and final race of the day. However, the daughter of Adios Charlie was bumped at the break and never involved, finishing seventh in the nine-horse field.
Chris Antley holds the North American record for most wins in a day with nine. On Halloween in 1987, he won four races on Aqueduct’s afternoon card and then another five more on The Meadowlands’ evening card. Eddie Castro also notched nine wins in one day, but unlike Antley, he did so all on one card, winning with nine of eleven mounts on Calder’s June 4, 2005, 13-race program. Castro’s record still stands as a North American record.
Six jockeys have won eight races on one card in North America. The legendary Pat Day was the most recent to do so when he found the winner’s circle eight times from nine rides (which is also the mark for the fewest rides) at Arlington International on September 13, 1989.
Back in 1933, Sir Gordon Richards won 12 straight races over the course of three days. On October 1 he won one race at Nottingham. He went six-for-six at Chepstow on October 4 and then won the first five races at Chepstow the following day. Pieter Stroebel equaled that mark at Bulawayo, Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) but did so with the races spaced between June 7 and July 7, 1958.
Tim Moccasin did the foreign duo two better when he won 14 consecutive races in Canada in 2001, a North American record.