Jockey Jose Ortiz won with 5-of-6 mounts on the nine-race card April 11 at Aqueduct Racetrack to surge to the top of the spring meet standings. The rider’s banner afternoon included a victory on Peter Brant’s Regal Glory in the $100,000 Plenty of Grace Stakes.
“I do pretty well here at Aqueduct. The New York trainers have been a big supporter of my career since I started here. This is my home,” said Ortiz.
Ortiz, the Eclipse Award-winning jockey of 2017, won with his first four mounts, taking the day’s first race with Always Carina ($3.90). The latter’s victory came for four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown.
He teamed up once more with Brown in race 4, the Plenty of Grace, guiding Regal Glory ($3.40) to a half-length score in the one-mile turf test for older fillies and mares. Regal Glory was patiently handled by Ortiz before she overtook pacesetter Platinum Paynter in deep stretch.
The 5-year-old Animal Kingdom gave Brown his fifth consecutive win in the Plenty of Grace after success from Mrs. McDougal (2016), Light in Paris (2017), Uni (2018), and Fifty Five (2019). The race was not contested last year with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ortiz indicated Regal Glory came to hand after traffic trouble into the first turn.
“I had to take a hold of her and she doesn’t like when you take that hold,” he said. “As soon as I put her in the clear, she relaxed a little. From the backside on, it was a beautiful trip.”
He said his mount relished Sunday’s wet course conditions.
“My filly loves the soft ground and always runs well on it. When I ride her, I love to see some rain in the forecast,” he said.
Following the Plenty of Grace, Ortiz partnered with trainer Orlando Noda to capture race 5, a state-bred maiden claiming sprint, with Rainbow Gal ($9.20) and one race later guided Three Jokers ($16.80) to a 7-1 upset for trainer John Terranova in a one-turn mile allowance.
The veteran rider concluded a memorable day by piloting Big Tony’s Girl ($5.30) to a maiden claiming score in the final race on the card for trainer James Ryerson.
The rider’s lone non-winning effort came with a fourth in race 7 aboard Spitball .
The five-win day elevated his win total at the current meet to 16 wins, four more than his brother Irad Ortiz Jr., who rode Keeneland this past week. The 11-day spring meet comes to a close April 18.
“You want to win every meet that you can but Irad wasn’t here this week and I’m sure he’ll come back and be competitive next week,” said Ortiz. “I have to keep the momentum going. I had a good beginning of the meet. Hopefully, I can finish up strong.”