Ortiz Brothers Go Toe to Toe in Keeneland Grade 1

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Authors: The Ortiz Brothers, Emily Shields

The Ortiz Brothers Jose and Irad have drawn posts four and six in the $500,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes at Keeneland Saturday, a 1 1/8 mile grass race for sophomore fillies. It is one of the most prestigious races for three-year-old grass horses on the calendar each year.

Jose will ride Princesa Carolina for Ken McPeek. The daughter of Tapit is out of $1.9 million earner Pure Clan, who was a Keeneland allowance winner in 2007 before being a grade 1 winner on grass. Her daughter was an allowance winner here in April, and took the Dueling Grounds Oaks at Kentucky Downs in September. She was also twice stakes placed at Arlington Park this year.

“She won nicely at Kentucky Downs,” Jose said. “Now she’ll face a much tougher field, but we have a good post position. She has already the experience over this track, including stakes placings and a victory here early this year.” 

Irad is aboard Chad Brown’s Café Americano, who defeated Princesa Carolina in the Pucker Up (G3) at Arlington. She has only started four times, winning a maiden race and an allowance at Belmont Park before running sixth in the Belmont Oaks Invitational (G1). The Pucker Up came after that effort; she won that race by two and a quarter lengths as the favorite despite a rough start.

“She’s been working great at Keeneland in preparation for this race,” Irad said. “The last time out at Arlington she made a very nice bold move and pulled clear, obtaining her third win in just four starts. She has so much class. I’m looking forward to ride her again this weekend.”

The race is the ninth of a ten-race card. Previous winners include Rushing Fall and Dayatthespa, both trained by Brown. Jose will also ride at Keeneland on Sunday, while Irad returns to Belmont Park to ride Noble Indy in the Point of Entry Stakes.

Watch the Ortiz brothers in action live this weekend on TVG and TVG2.

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