Authors: The Ortiz Brothers, Emily Shields
Following several weekends on the road and a brief suspension earlier this week, Irad Ortiz, Jr. and his brother Jose are back in a big way at Belmont Park for the first of their big Breeders’ Cup prep days.
In the $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1), Jose will ride third choice Tacitus, a royally-bred son of Tapit and the great mare Close Hatches. “He shows up in every single race,” Jose said of Tactius, who has been second in his last three starts, including the Belmont Stakes (G1) and Travers Stakes (G1). “He’s working well. It is a small field this time, and the distance should suit him perfectly.”
Tactius, a two-time grade 2 winner for trainer Bill Mott, is taking on grade 1-winning older males Preservationist and Vino Rosso, as well as the horse that outran him in the Travers, Code of Honor. Irad will ride Vino Rosso, and is seeking to take this race for the second time after winning in 2017 with Diversify.
The other grade 1 on the stellar card is the $300,000 Vosburgh (G1). It drew a field of six, with the quick Imperial Hint installed as the 3-5 morning line choice. Behind him is Firenze Fire on the outside at 5-2. Irad will ride Firenze Fire for trainer Jason Servis.
“Looks like this race will go down to a four or five horse field,” Irad said of the Vosburgh, which is expected to see the scratches of Promises Fulfilled (to race at Churchill Downs) and Call Paul. “My horse ran huge last time (when second in the grade 1 Forego) and he’s working really well for this race.”
In the $300,000 Beldame (G2), Jose will be aboard second choice Wow Cat (Chi) for trainer Chad Brown. Wow Cat is the race’s defending champion.
In the $200,000 Pilgrim Stakes (G3) for two-year-olds on the grass, Jose rides No Word, a son of Silent Name (Jpn), for Todd Pletcher, while Irad is on the Brown-trained Structor, by Palace Malice.
Watch the Ortiz brothers in action live this weekend on TVG and TVG2.
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