Three-time Eclipse Award-Winning jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. could be out three to four weeks as a result of a knee injury suffered in a starting gate incident January 7th at Gulfstream Park.
The jockey’s agent- Steve Rushing, said on Tuesday that Ortiz suffered a small fracture to his left knee.
On the day of the injury his mount, SHEA ON A MISSION (a four-year-old filly), was unruly in the starting gate prior to the eighth race at Gulfstream. In what would have been her fifth career start, she was eventually scratched from the race.
Ortiz did not ride his two remaining mounts on the January 7th program, but thought he would be able to ride the Saturday and Sunday cards at Gulfstream. He scratched from those rides the next morning after the pain did not subside, but expected to be back when racing resumed on the 12th. Those hopes were dashed when the fracture was discovered.
If he is sidelined three weeks, the injury could be a costly one for Ortiz, who was expected to be named to ride LIFE IS GOOD in the $3 million dollar, Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup Invitational and defending champion COLONEL LIAM in the $1 million, G1 Pegasus World Cup Turf – both on January 29th at Gulfstream Park.
Winner of the Eclipse Award for outstanding jockey in 2018, ’19 and ’20, Ortiz was the runaway leader in the jockey standings at the 2020-’21 championship meet at Gulfstream Park.
He finished 2nd behind Joel Rosario in North American earnings in 2021, with $29,274,435.
The gate incident came one day after Ortiz returned from a 30-day suspension for careless riding at Aqueduct. Karma Perhaps?
Between the suspension and the injury, Ortiz will be out of the money for the longest stretch in his career. But given the earnings we cited above, we don’t expect to see Ortiz in a Florida food line any time soon.