Authors: The Ortiz Brothers, Emily Shields
With Irad freshly coronated as Champion Jockey at the New York-bred divisional championships and Jose winning two rich races at Meydan Racecourse on the Dubai World Cup undercard, the Ortiz Brothers had a phenomenal week. Irad’s 2018 mounts included New York-bred Horse of the Year Diversify and standouts Holiday Disguise and Fourstar Crook. Jose’s winners came with Plus Que Parfait in the UAE Derby and Coal Front in the Godolphin Mile.
Attention turns to the upcoming weekend now with Irad set to ride at Keeneland on Saturday, including in the $1 million Toyota Blue Grass, an historic Kentucky Derby prep. Jose will be in New York to ride Tampa Bay Derby (G2) winner Tacitus in the Wood Memorial (G2), another important stepping stone on the path to the Kentucky Derby.
Jose rides nine at Aqueduct on Saturday during an 11-race card. His big mount is Tacitus, a Bill Mott-trainee with two wins in three starts lifetime. “He does everything so easy and I don’t know if he’s given me 100 percent yet,” Jose said. “I don’t think so. He set the stakes record in the Tampa Bay Derby and finished with something left in the tank. I don’t think long distances will matter to him. We have a good post position (#2). He doesn’t have much early speed so that will give me the opportunity to save ground and let him relax.”
He will also ride Mucho in the $250,000 Bay Shore Stakes (G3) over seven-furlongs. “I love this horse,” Jose said of the son of Blame, who has two wins and two seconds in four starts. “I think he’ll be at his best this Saturday.”
Identity Politics takes on a sharp field in the $400,000 Carter Handicap (G1), a sprint for older males. The Chad Brown-trainee broke his maiden at Belmont in the fall and was second in the grade 1 Malibu Stakes at Santa Anita two starts later. He is coming off a head loss in an allowance at Gulfstream. “He ran great in the last two starts, especially in the G1 Malibu,” Jose said. “I think that we have a great opportunity in the G1 Carter.”
Irad will also ride nine on Saturday, all at Keeneland. Win Win Win, third in the Tampa Bay Derby, is 7-2 morning line for the Blue Grass Stakes. “He’s a very nice horse,” Irad said. “He ran very good at Tampa, finishing 3rd just a couple of lengths behind Tacitus. There will be fourteen horses this Saturday but, we have a good post position.”
He will also ride a pair of standout fillies, with favored Shamrock Rose (5-2) in the $300,000 Madison Stakes (G1), and classy Feedback (3-1) for Brown in the $500,000 Central Bank Ashland Stakes (G1). Feedback is unbeaten in two starts and already a grade 3 winner, but faces Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner and Eclipse Award Champion Jaywalk in the Ashland, as well as Keeneland grade 1 winner Restless Rider. “She’s an extremely talented filly,” Irad said of Feedback. “It will her first race around two turns but she has the class.”
2018 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint Champion Shamrock Rose is back at Keeneland for the G1 Madison Stakes. “She won at Keeneland last year over seven furlongs and almost broke the track record,” Irad said. “Having Shamrock Rose back to her favorite distance will help. I think she’ll bring her best game this Saturday.” Shamrock Rose, a winner of five of 12 stars, is closing in on $1 million in earnings and could easily top that mark this weekend.
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