Authors: The Ortiz Brothers, Emily Shields
Between Irad and Jose Ortiz, the brothers took down five of the Breeders’ Cup races at Santa Anita Park over November 1 and 2.
Irad struck first, winning the opening Breeders’ Cup race, the Juvenile Turf Sprint (G2) on Four Wheel Drive. “This colt is very special,” the rider said. “He has so much talent. I knew after the break that he would be tough to beat.” Four Wheel Drive is an unbeaten son of American Pharoah and the More Than Ready mare Funfair, and is trained by Wesley Ward.
Jose rode Structor to win the very next race, the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1). The unbeaten Palace Malice colt is trained by Chad Brown, and defeated a full field with 13 rivals. Irad finished fourth in the race aboard Decorated Invader.
But Irad regrouped on Saturday, winning a stellar three Breeders’ Cup races, including both the Turf and Classic. First, Pennsylvania shipper Spun to Run won the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1), defeating favored Omaha Beach by almost three lengths as a 9-1 shot. Irad controlled the pace well aboard the front runner, rolling through brisk fractions with enough left over to win. “I was so excited about this race,” Irad said. “I mean, I get excited with every win, but, this one was one of those that stick in your head.”
Bricks and Mortar completed a likely Horse of the Year campaign when winning the $4 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1), defeating a hard running United by a head. Brown also trains Bricks and Mortar, who also won the Arlington Million (G1) and Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (G1) earlier this season. “I don’t know if I can put into words what this horse means to me and my family,” Irad said. “He’s like a part of us. He’s so classy. He was a fighter from the beginning to end. What a tremendous job by Chad and his team having Bricks and Mortar ready for his final performance. I’m going to miss my buddy Bricks. He’s one of the best horses that I ever rode.”
Bricks and Mortar will head to Japan to take up stallion duties. “Like his daddy (Giant’s Causeway, he’ll be a great sire,” the rider said.
Just an hour later, Irad guided Vino Rosso to victory in the $6 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1). Todd Pletcher trains the son of Curlin, who was already a grade 1 winner at Santa Anita earlier this season. The pair won the Classic by over four lengths, defeating favored McKinzie and $1 million TVG Pacific Classic (G1) hero Higher Power.
“Wow. Winning the Classic for a trainer like Todd Pletcher is a very special feeling,” Irad said. It was not only his first Classic win, but also Pletcher’s. “I’m thankful for Todd and the owners (Mike Repole and Vinny Viola) for giving me the opportunity to ride this horse who deserved to go out the way he did. Go Vino.”
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