Authors: The Ortiz Brothers, Emily Shields
Jose and Irad Ortiz will ride at Belmont Park on Saturday, October 19, where New York-breds will vie for top prizes on the annual Empire Showcase Day. It features eight stakes races for horses bred in the Empire State, including the $300,000 Empire Classic and $250,000 Empire Distaff Handicap.
In the second race on the card, Irad will ride #1 Firenze Freedom, a two-year-old filly for Jason Servis. She is coming off a maiden win over the course September 22.
The fourth is the $200,000 Mohawk for older horses on the grass. Irad rides #2 Therapist and Jose is on #8 Cross Border. Therapist was a stakes winner here in April, and Cross Border won three consecutive allowance races at Saratoga this summer.
In the $150,000 Hudson Handicap, Irad rides #4 Eye Luv Lulu, and Jose is on #6 Sicilia Mike. Race seven is the $150,000 Iroquois Stakes, with Irad on #2 Fair Regis and Jose drawn alongside on #3 Pauseforthecause. The $250,000 Sleepy Hollow Stakes for two-year-old colts has Jose on #4 Captain Bombastic and Irad on #5 Cleon Jones.
The $200,000 Ticonderoga Stakes for older fillies and mares on the grass has Jose on #5 Dream Passage and Irad on #6 Kid Is Frosty. “He’s returning to the grass where he won two stakes races,” Irad said. “Last time out we didn’t have a clean trip over the dirt track, and still finished second. His last two workouts went pretty well over the Belmont Park turf. He’s always in the money and he brings his best to every race.”
The final race of the day is the one-mile Empire Distaff, worth $250,000. Irad rides #2 Bonita Bianca, and Jose is aboard #10 Ratajkowski for Brian Lynch. “She’s getting better with every outing,” Jose said. “I had the opportunity to work her a couple of times at Keeneland and she did great. I think we are in a good position to keep the win streak going.” Ratajkowski has won her last two starts.
In Breeders’ Cup related news, Jose Ortiz has been announced as the rider for Shancelot in the upcoming Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1). Watch the Ortiz brothers in action live this weekend on TVG and TVG2.
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