HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Jose Ortiz made the most of his weekend in South Florida, urging on Hy Riverside ($8.80) to victory by a nose in Saturday’s Sunshine Millions Classic at Gulfstream Park.
The skills that made Ortiz a finalist for the Outstanding Jockey title at Saturday evening’s Eclipse Award Dinner in the Sport of Kings theater was put on full display during the running of the 1 1/8-mile finale of the Sunshine Millions Day program.
Ortiz rated the 5-year-old gelding between horses around the first turn and along the backstretch as Nauset Beach showed the way, stalked by Piloting and Awesome Slew, the 3-5 favorite. Rounding the turn into the stretch, Ortiz cut the corner aboard Hy Riverside and set him down for the long stretch drive. The Antonio Sano-trained gelding kicked in gamely to put his nose down at the wire to narrowly prevail over a brave Nauset Beach, a 30-1 outsider in the field of eight Florida-breds.
“Antonio told me to warm him up good. He said try to put him close to the pace, and he will give you a run at the three-eighths pole. At that point I didn’t want to go around because I felt like I had a lot of horse. I wait, wait, wait, and made my way through a hole, and my horse was very, very brave,” said Ortiz, who led the nation with 351 wins last year. “I knew I was there, but I wasn’t sure about the head bob. He gave me everything he had.”
Hy Riverside ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.39 to register his first stakes victory. Nauset Beach and jockey Paco Lopez finished three-quarters of a length ahead of Awesome Slew and Javier Castellano.
Hy Riverside, who registered back-to-back optional claiming allowance victories at Gulfstream in August, finished fifth in the Harlan’s Holiday (G3) and the Hal’s Hope (G3) in his first two starts of the Championship Meet.
“The horse is a good horse. The horses are here to run, and Antonio said if the horse is good, run him,” said assistant trainer Jesus Prada, who saddled Hy Riverside in the absence of Sano, who was in Tampa Saturday. “In the first moment, I thought he lost, but on the replay, I thought he won. The jockey rode an excellent race. When he took him inside, it was very good. He is an excellent jockey.”
Source: Gulfstream Park