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Apprentice Irad Ortiz Jr. Is Catching Our Attention; 19YO Puerto Rican Making Most Of Limited Chances

By Warren Eves

Rudy Rodriguez, one of the leading claiming trainers at Belmont Park, knows young talent when he sees it.

He gave 19-year-old apprentice jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. a leg up on Flying Sappho in Friday’s first at Belmont Park.  Flying Sappho made up a significant amount of ground in the final furlong to catch the favorite and win.  Kentucky hardboots will tell you not every young rider getting a five or seven-pound head-start get results.  Horses obviously respond to this young man.

Horses run for this bug rider and he’s been making the most of limited chances riding against a tough riding colony.

Back on May 29 it didn’t look good for Irad Ortiz, Jr. at Belmont.  He suffered a concussion following a spill in the 10th race on the Widener turf course.  Freud’s Debut stumbled and fell after the start and Ortiz went down

On Day 23 at the recently concluded Saratoga race meet he took a tumble when My Man Nell clipped heels leaving the chute in race eight.  He lost one iron and actually landed on his feet before tumbling over and over.  Taken off by stretcher Ortiz was allowed to return to ride his last mount.  He got Purplegreenandgold to the wire first at 28-1 but wound up being disqualified.  Veteran jockey Kent Desormeaux probably had a few things to say to the young pilot after the incident.

Trainer Rodriguez gave Ortiz  a live chance Friday when he put him on class dropper Flying Sappho in the first.  The New York-bred daughter of A.P. Jet made a huge late run to reel in the favorite and win.  We’re willing to bet Rodriguez liked the end result.  We can expect Rodriguez to give this young man some more chances.  That’s all a young learning jockey can expect when the jockey room is filled to with many big named pilots.

You really had to like the manner which Flying Sappho closed with Ortiz Friday.  The New York-bred mare got up to catch the betting fave in eye-catching fashion.  It’s true Flying Sappho was taking a class drop to $25,000.  Even if you’re one of those people who are willing to give little credit to a rider–you have to admit this kid can get results.

Notes scribbled across my official program–Word comes from out of Sierra Madre, California from my longtime friend Diane Shear. Remember the brave Santa Anita employee who jumped in front of a loose horse to save a young person from serious injury? That was paddock guard John Shear. He’s doing well and on October 1st Santa Anita will have a special day for him. John has finally rid of the horrible pain he’s had to endure while mending. He’s not going back to work full time until the Dec., 26th opening of Santa Anita…………………….To say I was surprised with the racetrack at Saratoga Racecourse on Monday, Aug., 29, is an understatement. For the amount of rain that pelted the upstate racing oval we found not a sea of mud but a great racing surface. It’s not a good idea to get too pumped up over a first level win at $15,000 but the two-year-old filly Hillsboro Bay did impress in race two for George Weaver. She had won a maiden $20,000 race and was racing in front bandages but Hillsboro Bay won with aplomb. Second over she took the lead and was pulling clear in the late stages……………..Todd Pletcher has so many horses there is no way he can do them all justice. What we do know is he led over a three-year-old filly who had been prepared at Delaware on Monday, Aug., 29 and she impressed. Purely Majestic had not shown much in two previous tries. Don’t know what assistant trainer got her ready at Delaware, but he certainly did a great job. John Velasquez had her second over in the mile and a sixteenth route. It was being contested over a fast racetrack despite the heavy rain the day before. Purely Majestic took the lead in the stretch and Velasquez never had to ask her for run as she drew out resolutely. She’s by Quiet American and who knows what level she will wind up at?………………..Steve Sherman’s first time starter Agents Bruce deserved a better fate in race four at Golden Gate on August 28th with Frank Alvarado aboard. On leaving post five in a six horse field Alvarado had to check when Agents Bruce got rammy inside one. Full of run back of the first flight Alvaarado had to check the two-year-old again going down the backstretch. They entered the turn last. Angents Bruce rode the rail into the lane and ran into a “blind swtich” and lost all omentum. After checking agin he still had run and came between foes to finish fourth……………….Hard to believe jockey Russell Baze didn’t get his first winner at Golden Gate until the fourth day. He rode Bertie Boy to a com-from behind win in the 1-mile and 3/8ths sixth for Bob Hess, Sr………………..Mr. & Mrs. Tom Shapiro’s Blue Collar Boy sure made a good impression making his first career start at Golden Gate Fields. Had to like the way the Calkins Road colt drew away in the late stages of the 5-1/2 furlong race……………….Did you happen to see the run Alaura Michele put in when going long for the first time on Saratoga turf the last day of August? Bill Mott had to be pleased. She saved ground 5th along the rail moving down the backstretch. When they came off the top she literally pushed Putthebabiesdown out of the way to begin her run. Once into the lane she responded to the reins being thrown at her and went strong to the wire. This was one time the turf number in the Daily Racing Form pointed players in the right direction. Alaura Michele is owned by Siena Farm and is a daughter of Arch who is by Kris S. It was her first start on lasix……………..Team Valor’s Barry Irwin is at it again. Noticed where Team Valor has obtained a two-year-old filly named Visionaria. The juvenile daughter of Byron won two of three starts in Italy and is currently in training with Graham Motion at Fairhill…………………..Here’s an opinion based on close review of the 11rh and final race of the day on August 31 at the spa in Saratoga Springs, New York. They carded one of those required New York-bred races as a maiden $35,000 claiming race. They had a field of 11 and I don’t believe any of them is worth the claiming price. Howie And the Cat won the race from the rail……………….For those who have been asking I’ve weaned myself off Maryland replays and am concentrating on New York and California. We simply had too many impressive ?runbacks” failing to show up in puzzling Maryland results………….Terry Knight has options with Sam Rivinies’ Fire Break who overcame a rough trip to win a #16K starter race on September 1 at Del Mar. Have to think we might see Fire Break brought back at Fairplex where horses that deal with issues usually do well. It might be a good idea to follow Hudson Landing next time out. He beat Fire Break last time out and that’s all you need to know…………………Yes, it’s true, viewers of TVG are finally get the on-the-air relief they have been clamoring for. Ken Rudolph, who has never been a fit when it comes to horse racing, has moved on to a full time gig on Sacramento television. That’s good news.  Rudolph was irritating to most and never did clasp what horse racing was all about…………….Don’t be overly critical of the fading effort of Dehere of the Cat in race two Friday at Saratoga Race Course. After the break he was slammed hard by the betting favorie Zow, raced up in the slot and after saving ground to the top he tired. Look for this two-year-old race to be productive…………………There’s a reason why I have always placed so much credability in reviewing races via video tape. Speightscity was a runaway winner of the fifth race at Saratoga on Sept., 2. Let’s just say there’s probably a reason why Speightscity was running for a $20,000 claim tag. Lugging out into the first turn Speightscity never did get on a straight course. Holding a short lead outside one to the top Speightscity drew out. The only problem was he was lugging out every step of the way…………………..Cornelio Velasquez is surely to be doing some time on the bench for his ride aboard Pashito The Che in the 8th on closing day at the spa. His mount came out not once, but twice to bump favored Fiddlers Patriot. The stewards disqualified Pashito The Che from second and placed him fourth behind the favorite. Goldzar came from about 7 lengths out of it to get up in the final strides of the 5-1/2 furlong test over a soggy course at 31-1………………….If you are wondering why I have not been filing for awhile.  We had a site glitch and finally got it straightened away.  Thanks for bearing with us.  I will be filing more regularly……………...Rail Trip, the horse who finished second in the Hollywood Gold Cup who was taken away from Ron Ellis, has not done so hot since joining Richard Dutrow. He was beaten again on September 15th at Belmont Park. Jay Em Ess Stable probably wishes they would have left Rail Trip in the west………………Since Roddy Valente claimed Cal-bred Spirit Of Cochise for $40K  he’s won twice for Bruce LeVine. He won a race at Parx and was second recently at Belmont Park running for $75K……………..Sometimes you simply can’t believe your eyes.  Ganador appeared beaten in the first race at Belmont on September 15, a maiden $50,000 claimer.  Third to the top the two-year-old appeared beaten.  But once Rajiv Maragh got Ganador outside and in the clear he came on to win off.  He’s a New York-bred so it will be interesting to see where trainer Dominic Gallascio brings him back against winners……………You might want to follow Le Mi Geaux for the Steve Asmussen barn.  He is on a a healthy improvement cycle at Belmont Park…………….Looked at the seventh race at Belmont Park over and over.  It was a grass route race where the tempo was slow.  So what usually happens in these cases the leaders keep going.  That’s exactly what happened.  So, looking at the race objectively the fourth place finish of Green Bluff was better than it will appear on paper.  He actually made a run midway through the stretch along the inside……………I’ll be putting up a brand new list of over 90 Horses To Watch this weekend.  We are concentrating on races run in New York and California from this day forward.  Go to Pay Pal and stay informed.  We spend tireless hours reviewing video tape every day.

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About The Author

Warren Eves
Warren Eves is a senior turf writer from the state of California who calls Pearl River, Louisiana his home. The one time editor of the Pasadena Independent Star News moved on to handle publicity for racetracks coast to coast. Eves gained his first exposure to the racetrack through a school buddy the late Art Lerille, Jr., who eventually became a trainer in California. Warren worked as farm manager for crack two-year-old trainer Ray Priddy, before holding on track jobs at the racetrack. He worked for Hall of Fame trainer M.E. "Buster" Millerick, Allen Drumheller, Jr., and Dick Moon. Eves has a well rounded background in all breeds. He developed Quarter Horse Report in 1979 with Ed Burgart, track announcer, at Los Alamitos Race Course. It was an innovative publication which revolutionized the industry with actual descriptions of the workouts. While handling publicity at Saratoga Raceway in upstate New York Eves was named employee of the year in 1970. He also handled publicity for Sunland Park, Centennial Park, Ascot Park, Thistledown, and two harness meetings in California. Eves then went into the 900-line business with his best plays and has compiled his own Kentucky Derby ratings for many years. In 1997 he began going back and forth to Las Vegas teaming up with Ralph Siraco to create the long runining radio show Raceday Las Vegas. Eves has produced and directed many horse racing shows on both radio and television. In 2010 he got a call from Mark Geiger. That's when he began writing www.pricehorsecentral.com. Eves, with a reputation of a trip handicapper, is known for his video tape scrutiny. He currently monitors horse racing in for a major horseplayer. While writing for Ridder Publication at the Pasadena Star News his investigative reporting was highly regarded by his peers. Often on the cutting edge, Eves has been given the green light to write about what issues he sees fit to cover. Have a question. His book "Hold All Tickets" is soon to be made available for those who come to this site. It's a factual account of actual events and happenings that took place in the 70s, 80s and 90s. If Warren doesn't know the answer to a question you may have, he'll tell you up front. Eves won't drop it there, however, he'll find someone who knows the answer and get back to you.

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