(Jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. rode Gulf Coast to victory in the Cash Run at Gulfstream Park on Friday / Photo by Holly M. Smith)

From the Gulfstream Park Media Team:

WinStar Stablemates Racing’s Gulf Coast successfully stretched out after a pair of sprints to start her career and became a stakes winner for the first time in Friday’s $75,000 Cash Run at Gulfstream Park.

The one-mile Cash Run for newly turned 3-year-old fillies was the second of three $75,000 stakes on the New Year’s Day program, preceded by Imprimis winning the Janus for 4-year-olds and up and followed by Hear My Prayer’s victory in the Abundantia for fillies and mares 4 and older, both sprinting on the turf.

Irad Ortiz Jr. swept all three stakes as part of a five-win afternoon to open the calendar year. The Championship Meet’s two-time defending leading rider, Ortiz is favored to win a third straight Eclipse Award later this month as North America’s champion jockey.

Ortiz began his big day notching back-to-back wins aboard 4-year-old first-time starter and 4-5 favorite Luann ($3.80) in Race 5 and 3-year-old filly Lionessofbrittany ($13.20) in Race 6.

“I have to thank all the trainers and owners for all the opportunities, honestly. Thank God, he keeps me healthy,” Ortiz said. “I’m living my dream right now. I’m so happy, all the trainers and owners they keep riding me. It’s been a hard year to follow all the horses, and I just feel blessed.”

Ortiz led all North American jockeys with 300 wins and $21,050,726 in purse earnings in 2020, a year where racing was paused and reshuffled across the country due to the coronavirus pandemic. Ortiz finished with 1,266 mounts, the fewest since his rookie year of 2011 (1,016).

At Gulfstream, he has led the Championship Meet standings with 135 wins in 2018-19 and 115 in 2019-20. He ranks second at the current stand which began Dec. 2, trailing Luis Saez, 34-30.

“Last year, we had a good year, but there were a lot of things going on, honestly. I lost my grandfather. 2020 was sad for everyone. A start like this, hopefully, we can start the new year and forget everything that was bad last year and get going with a regular life, hopefully,” Ortiz said.

“I always come here trying my best on all the horses. You never expect it, they just come up. I just keep riding and riding the whole day,” he added. “I try to win every time. Thank God, we got five winners.”

Gulf Coast ($6.40), a bay daughter of Belmont Stakes (G1) winner Union Rags trained by Rodolphe Brisset, completed the distance in 1:37.46 over a fast main track to win by a half-length over late-running Honorifique. It was 3 ¾ lengths back to Honorifique in third, followed by Shea D Summer, Orbs Baby Girl, Gladys, Sky Proposal and Quinoa Tifah.

“I think everything set up the way we were looking [for]. Irad got her in the clear after the first quarter, I think that was a good move,” Brisset said. “She’s a pretty big filly and we were really looking forward to running her a little bit longer than we did the first two times.”

Adios Trippi, racing first time for Gulfstream-based trainer Peter Walder after two starts in the Mid-Atlantic at 2, was quickest from the gate and led through fractions of 23.08 seconds for a quarter-mile pressed by fellow long shot Orbs Baby Girl and 45.71 for the half, when previously undefeated stakes winner and 8-5 favorite Shea D Summer picked up the chase.

Breaking from Post 2 inside all but one of seven rivals, Ortiz let the speed go and raced in mid-pack before tipping into the clear three wide down the backstretch. Gulf Coast began passing horses with little urging around the far turn and was set down at the top of the lane, powering through the stretch to her second win from three starts.

“I had a perfect trip. I broke good and was able to get my filly where she wants to be,” Ortiz said. “She was a little more comfortable outside. We were there and I took my time and when I asked her to run, she was there. She started picking it up from the half-mile all the way to the quarter pole. After that I worked hard on her and she kept going.”

“[Brisset] just told me, ‘She’s not going to give you anything easy, you’re going to have to work for it.’ I don’t like to get in the horse’s way, so I just got her out of there and let her find her stride on the backside,” he added. “We were back a little farther than we wanted early but she was comfortable. He said to ride her with confidence and give her the chance, and she did it.”

Gulf Coast broke her maiden Nov. 10 at Indiana Grand before overcoming some early trouble to be second in the Sandpiper Dec. 5 at Tampa Bay Downs, both going six furlongs. Brisset said Gulf Coast, purchased for $300,000 as a 2-year-old in training last March who began her career on the West Coast with Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, will get some time leading up to her next start.

“We ran her back in 26 days, 27 days and that’s not usually what we do, but we were looking for some black type,” Brisset said. “She showed class and quality to us, but now we’ve got the win in a stakes out of the way. I think two turns, yes, but I think six weeks, too.”

Cara Oliver’s stakes winner Hear My Prayer ($21), who has typically raced on or near the lead through seven starts, split horses at the top of the stretch and came with a sweeping move on the outside through the lane to reel in Tracy Ann’s Legacy and Lenzi’s Lucky Lady and edge clear to a 2 ½-length victory in the Abundantia.

The winning time was 55.27 seconds over a firm turf course. It was the fourth career win and third from four starts on the grass at Gulfstream for Hear My Prayer, who is trained by David Fisher.

“She broke good, put me right there. The trainer said she was doing great,” Ortiz said. “She put me in a good position. I held her together and she relaxed and came back to me. She waited for the time to go, when I asked her turning for home, she responded.”