Racing spotlight: Hidden Scroll, Irad Ortiz, Ron Faucheux
Racing Spotlight is a new weekly series that will highlight a horse, jockey, and trainer with insightful information to help our players always be informed.
Horse spotlight: Hidden Scroll
Hidden Scroll could be racing’s comeback story of 2021.
After he aced his much-anticipated 5-year-old debut Jan. 24 at Oaklawn, he emerged in good order and is galloping daily in preparation for his yet-to-be determined next start.
The six-furlong allowance was the bay’s first start for trainer Brad Cox and owner Marc Detampel. Hidden Scroll was previously campaigned by Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott and breeder/owner Juddmonte Farms.
His off-the-pace, 2 1/2 length win at Oaklawn showed a different dimension than his previous frontrunning victories, and Cox was encouraged that Hidden Scroll showed he can overcome obstacles.
The son of 2007 Kentucky Derby (G1) runner-up Hard Spun immediately caught the attention of the Thoroughbred world when he won his debut by 14 lengths on the on the undercard of the 2019 Pegusus World Cup (G1) at Gulfstream Park. That led Hidden Scroll to be a leader in Kentucky Derby future wagers and the morning-line favorite in the Fountain of Youth (G2), a race offering Derby qualifying points. However, a fourth-place finish in the Fountain of Youth and a sixth in the Florida Derby (G1) dashed his Kentucky Derby dreams.
Later, he won an optional-claiming allowance by 12 1/2 lengths, but, the glory was short-lived. Prone to pre-race antics, he continued to struggle. He was sold at a Keeneland auction in November, and that’s when he moved to Cox’s barn.
“His pre-race antics are well-documented. We are just hoping a change of scenery might benefit the horse,” said Fergus Galvin, who was acting on behalf of Detampel at the Keeneland sale. “On his best day, he is Grade 1 caliber. He has shown that talent in the past. He is also a beautiful physical. If we can unearth the talent out of him, we are definitely excited to see what the future holds for him.”
Cox said the goal is to get Hidden Scroll back to races like the $500,000 Count Fleet (G3), a contest he finished seventh in last year, but indicated there is no rush to get there.
“He seems like a horse that does like to run well fresh. We're really in no hurry with him,” Cox said. “We're going to plot out a plan throughout the year and, hopefully, ultimately try to win some graded stakes with him. But we've got a little ways to go before we start running in graded stakes again.”
Jockey spotlight: Irad Ortiz Jr.
Irad Ortiz Jr.’s latest hot streak is burning through Gulfstream Park. Since the meet opened Dec. 2, the track’s two-time defending leading rider has won 100 races and has earned more than $4 million in purses. He has won at a 27% rate and has finished in the trifecta at a 57% rate.
He rang in the new year with five winners Jan. 1. He improved on that number Feb. 6, when he was in the irons for six wins, one short of the track record. He had another blockbuster day Feb. 17, with five trips to the winner’s circle.
At the end of January, Ortiz accepted his third consecutive Eclipse Award for outstanding jockey, in part because he ranked first among all North American jockeys for earnings and wins. He joins Jerry Bailey, Ramon Dominguez, and Javier Castellano as the only jockeys to receive the award in three consecutive years.
Ortiz has 75 wins in 2021, which leads North American jockeys by a wide margin. Tyler Gaffalione, who is second, has 44 wins. Among Ortiz’s wins are three graded stakes, including the $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitation Stakes (G1) on Colonel Liam. Later that day, he finished second on longshot Jesus’ Team in the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1).
His mindset indicates he will keep forging ahead. After he won six Feb. 6, he said, “Tomorrow everybody will forget what happened today. I just move on. I celebrate the way I want to. I go home with my family. That's it. And tomorrow is a new day.”
Trainer spotlight: Ron Fauchex
Ron Faucheux, 38, is perhaps the least well-known of the trainers in a four-way duel for the Fair Grounds title, but he has made a name for himself against big-league company.
We have a new solo leader in the trainer standings as @FaucheuxRacing is on a tear, while @James_D_Graham and @ABeschizza are trying to make it a match race in the jockey's standings! What will Thursday's nine-race card bring? pic.twitter.com/1brgTB7hFT— Fair Grounds (@fairgroundsnola) February 11, 2021
Faucheux (pronounced fo-SHAY) is poised to surpass his 2020 Fairgrounds season, where he finished second, with 34 wins, behind Cox, who had 40. The meet ends March 28, Faucheux is approaching 30 victories, and has a 22% win rate. He seems even more formidable when he partners with jockey Adam Beschizza. Earlier in the meet, the duo was winning at a 47% rate together.
Faucheux worked for three years under seven-time Eclipse-winning trainer Todd Pletcher, before he went out on his own in 2009. He started in claiming races and has grown into a major player in the claiming game, but he has also trained stakes-caliber horses. Faucheux has won 569 races and has earned more than $13.5 million in purses.
He has a drive to do well in Louisiana.
RELATED: Brisnet Trainer Stats Feb. 16
“The goal and the dream for most trainers is to win a Kentucky Derby, but for me, my dream was always that I wanted to win and be competitive at the Fair Grounds," he said. "If those big horses and a Derby or races like that happen, its great and I would love it, but I like being in Louisiana and training here and winning races at the Fair Grounds.”