Top jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. will return to the irons this weekend at Gulfstream Park, after missing two weeks due to a knee injury suffered in the starting gate at Gulfstream on January 7th.
The injury was initially diagnosed as a fracture and expected to keep Ortiz from riding for up to a month, but a second opinion has cleared the jockey for a gradual return to riding races. Not sure how one gets a second opinion of an x-ray showing a fracture…but we digress.
“Irad said he felt great this morning,” the jockey’s agent Steve Rushing said; “He’s going to start back on Saturday, only ride a couple each day this weekend, and gradually get back to a full card starting next week.”
Thursday, January 6th was the first day Ortiz had ridden since his 30-day NYRA suspension for his actions in a pair of races at Aqueduct Park.
Ortiz is signed on to ride Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile Winner LIFE IS GOOD in the Pegasus World Cup on January 29th, as well as defending Winner COLONEL LIAM in the Pegasus Turf. Trainer Todd Pletcher has said Ortiz would retain those mounts if all goes well this weekend.
We at the Daily Racing Blog suspected all along that Ortiz would be back in the saddle for the big money races on Pegasus Day. We pictured him as a modern-day Red Pollard aboard SEABISQUIT, strapping and bracing his leg in any way necessary, just to be able to ride.
Horseplayers should keep an eye on Irad and his rides this weekend.
His aggressiveness and tenacity are just a couple of traits that make him a great jockey- as well as get him suspended.
Point being, what if the knee/leg aren’t at full strength? Lower body strength for a jockey is a huge factor in keeping a horse under control, and pushing through seams on the racetrack.
Irad is very competitive- as are most of the upper echelon of riders, so he’s going to ride no matter what.
It’ll be up to the trainers to decide if he is able to give their horse the best chance to Win.
In lieu of that bettor beware.