Irad Ortiz (inside) won his first Kentucky Downs race aboard Unmoored by a nose. Coady Photography
With his brother Jose Ortiz the two-time reigning meet titlist, Eclipse Award-winning jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. is riding at Kentucky Downs for the first time. After getting a pair of thirds in five mounts on Wednesday, Irad Ortiz won on his first mount Thursday with Unmoored taking the third race for trainer Mike Maker. Irad Ortiz had to earn it, winning the $40,000 claiming race by a nose over Artie’s Rumor.
“I really like it,” Irad Ortiz said afterward. “It’s something different. It’s different than all the other tracks I’ve been riding. It’s not like a regular track, just two turns. This is uphill, downhill, tight turn. I like it. I just have fun. I’m glad I’m able to ride some horses here.”
Asked if Jose gave him pointers, Irad said, “Yeah, he helped me a little bit, the other guys, too, like Ricardo Santana, who have been riding here before and are good friends of mine. They’re trying to help to give me advice on the track. Jose said he figured it out his first year and then did much better. I came here on the flight with him and he’s been talking to me a lot. I feel good riding now.”
Irad Ortiz, who won the Saratoga riding title over his brother 59-58 in wins, is named to ride 20 horses the last three days of the Kentucky Downs meet. That includes riding Saratoga stakes-winner Cariba in Saturday’s $500,000 Real Solution Ladies Sprint for Christophe Clement, who already has won a stakes at the meet, along with favored Outadore in the $500,000 Bal a Bali Juvenile Turf Sprint for Wesley Ward, Imprimis for trainer Joe Orseno as the graded-stakes winner attempts to improve on last year’s fourth place in the $700,000 RUNHAPPY Turf Sprint, and Grand Journey in the $1 million Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup.
Grand Journey earned a spot in the meet’s richest race by training so well when paired up with his Mike Maker stablemate Zulu Alpha, the defending champion in the Grade 3 race.
Tyler Gaffalione has six wins to lead the jockey standings, with Gerardo Corrales at four (all for Wesley Ward).