​Jose Ortiz wins close battle with brother Irad Ortiz, Jr. for riding title at Belmont spring/summer meet; Rice wins fourth consecutive NYRA meet training title
Jul 9, 2023
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​Jose Ortiz wins close battle with brother Irad Ortiz, Jr. for riding title at Belmont spring/summer meet; Rice wins fourth consecutive NYRA meet training title

by Mary Eddy

After a close battle with brother Irad Ortiz, Jr. through the final days of the 40-day spring/summer meet at Belmont Park, jockey Jose Ortiz secured the riding title on Sunday at the Elmont oval, finishing the meet one win ahead with 59 total victories. 

Ortiz, a 29-year-old native of Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico, celebrated his 12th overall meet riding title. He was also the leading rider on the NYRA circuit in 2016, 2020 and 2021.

Ortiz closed out the meet with a record of 246-59-44-38 and total purse earnings of $4,921,926, putting him at a win rate of 23.98 percent and in-the-money percentage of 57.32. 

“It was very fun – it’s great,” said Ortiz, who also won the 2021 Belmont spring/summer title with 59 wins. “I work very hard in the mornings and I receive good opportunities from the owners and trainers and I’m very thankful for that.”

Meet highlights for Ortiz included Grade 1 triumphs aboard Marketsegmentation for leading owner Klaravich Stables in the New York and with Far Bridge in the Belmont Derby Invitational. Ortiz also posted Grade 3 victories in the Intercontinental aboard Poppy Flower and in the Soaring Softly atop Queen Picasso, as well as an additional trio of stakes with Eye Witness [Paradise Creek], Maker’s Candy [Mike Lee] and Gold Sweep [Tremont]. 

“It was a lot of wins, but definitely the Belmont Derby yesterday has to be my race of the meet,” said Ortiz. “It was a great trip, a great ride, and I had the horse – that was important.” 

Ortiz said it was special to win several races for the meet’s leading trainer Linda Rice, who is the aunt of Ortiz’s wife, retired jockey Taylor [Rice] Ortiz. 

“I’ve been riding for Linda a long time and this meet I basically rode first call for her,” said Ortiz. “I’m glad she got leading trainer and we did a pretty good job. Hopefully, we can continue doing so in Saratoga.” 

Ortiz added he is looking forward to carrying his good form into the upcoming 40-day Saratoga Race Course summer meet.

“I think it’s great to have momentum to go up there. He [Irad Ortiz, Jr.] is going to head there as the favorite, we all know. But I’m going to try to beat him again,” Ortiz said, with a laugh. 

Ortiz, Jr., who won 14 stakes at the meet that included Grade 1 coups in the Man o’ War [Red Knight], Just a Game [In Italian] and Resorts World Casino Manhattan [Up to the Mark], finished second with a record of 213-58-34-23. Manny Franco finished third with a record of 223-31-37-41. 

Ortiz and Ortiz, Jr. are both represented by agent Steve Rushing.

Trainer Linda Rice paced all other trainers at the meet to land her fourth consecutive training title at a NYRA track and the second of her career at Belmont after sharing the 2011 spring/summer meet with Todd Pletcher [25 wins]. She secured the title with 34 wins, unseating Chad Brown from a seven-year reign atop the trainer standings for this meet. 

Rice, 59, earned her 11th overall meet title on the heels of a prosperous showing late last year and early this year at Aqueduct Racetrack, where she claimed the fall [20 wins], winter [37 wins] and spring [17 wins] meet training titles. This meet, she enjoyed a record of 140-34-18-23 with total earnings of $1,996,693, good for a win percentage of 24.29 and in-the-money rate of 53.57 percent. 

“It’s exciting – it’s a lot of fun to win a Belmont title,” said Rice. “We had a good winter at Aqueduct and usually the spring meet gets a little stronger, and we managed to win that. We had no thoughts we would win the spring meet here, so I’m delighted.” 

Among Rice’s accomplishments was a stakes victory with Downtown Mischief in the New York-bred Bouwerie on May 29. She also enjoyed two allowance-level triumphs with the mare Movie Moxy and three consecutive wins with Pioneering Spirit. 

“Pioneering Spirit was a good claim,” said Rice. “He’s a little 800-pound horse and he did well when we switched him to the grass. I got frustrated going to the 2-year-old sales and always getting outbid, so I decided to start claiming more about two years ago and it’s gone very well.” 

Rice echoed Ortiz’s sentiments and said keeping much of her success in the family has been special. 

“Jose has ridden a lot for me this meet and he’s won a lot of races for us,” said Rice. “He’s married to my niece, so it’s nice.” 

Chad Brown finished second in the standings with a record of 117-28-21-19 while Mike Maker finished third with a record of 108-19-15-17. 

Seth Klarman’s Klaravich Stables won their 22nd owners’ title at a NYRA track for a meet that saw them earn 11 victories, capped by graded triumphs with Marketsegmentation in the Grade 1 New York and Grade 3 Beaugay, along with two allowance-level scores with Portfolio Company. Klaravich Stables ended the meet with a record of 41-11-9-7 and purse earnings of $1,358,078. 

David Jacobson, who posted a record of 33-7-3-5, tied for second with Winning Move Stable, who completed the meet with a 19-7-2-3 record. 

Live racing resumes Thursday at Saratoga Race Course for Opening Day of the 40-day summer meet, which features 71 stakes worth $20.8 million. First post on the 10-race card, which features the Grade 3, $175,000 Schuylerville in Race 9, is 1:10 p.m. Eastern. 

Saratoga Live will present live coverage and analysis of the Saratoga Race Course summer meet on the networks of FOX Sports. For the broadcast schedule and channel finder, visit https://www.nyra.com/saratoga/racing/tv-schedule/

NYRA Bets is the official wagering platform of Saratoga Race Course, and the best way to bet every race of the summer meet. Available to horse players nationwide, the NYRA Bets app is available for download today on iOS and Android at www.NYRABets.com.

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