Ortiz Brothers Return to Kentucky Downs Thursday

September 6, 2022

FRANKLIN, Ky.— Jose Ortiz knows how to win the riding title at Kentucky Downs.

He has done it twice, in 2018 and 2019 when he won 10 races each year. Can he do it again this year? He admits that will be tough.

He has already given other riders a three-day head start. When the Kentucky Downs meet began, Ortiz was finishing up the 40-day summer meet at Saratoga Race Course in New York. That ended on Labor Day and Ortiz is headed to the Bluegrass State, along with his brother Irad, for the remaining four days at Kentucky Downs.

Irad Ortiz Jr. was the leading rider at Saratoga with 55 wins; Jose finished fifth with 36 wins.

“It’s a very difficult meet to win,” Jose Ortiz said about the FanDuel Meet at Kentucky Downs. “Anyone can have a good day or anyone can have a good start. We have already given them a head start.”

Tyler Gaffalione, who left Saratoga early to ride at Kentucky Downs, has five wins from 16 starts to lead this year’s jockey’s race after three days of racing.

Last year, Jose Ortiz was not a factor as his Kentucky Downs season was cut short when he came down with COVID-19.

Irad Ortiz had four wins from 29 starts last year; the season before he and Jose each had six wins.

Both Ortiz brothers say they really enjoy riding the challenging turf course at Kentucky Downs.

“It goes up and it goes down,” Irad said. “Left, right. I love it. It’s a short meet, but I love the time over there. It’s like riding in England. Something different.”

Jose Ortiz said he plans to ride some for trainers Wesley Ward and Steve Asmussen. He said the biggest adjustment riders have to make is getting used to the way the turf course is configured.

“You go up and down the hills from the mile to the six furlongs,” he said. “You get up to the top of that hill, man, you are going down quick. You’ve got to go down and a lot of horses don’t like to go down; they’re not used to it. It’s easier for them to go up. You really have to ride with a lot of patience.”

Irad Ortiz is named on nine horses apiece on Thursday and Saturday, including favored Campanelle in the $1 million The Mint Ladies Sprint G3), Arrest Me Red in the $1 million FanDuel Turf Sprint (G2) and Assymetric in the $600,000 Franklin-Simpson (G2) for Ward. Jose Ortiz has five mounts Thursday and eight on Saturday.

By Tim Wilkin – Kentucky Downs Press Release

Photo: Jose Ortiz (left) and Irad Ortiz Jr. (Joe Labozzetta)

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