Mike de Kock has secured the services of promising 23-year-old jockey Irad Oritz, jr. for Mubtaahij in the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park, New York, on June 6.
Originally from Trujillo Alto in Puerto Rico, Ortiz is a graduate of that country’s Escuela Vocacional Hípica, a school for prospective jockeys. His grandfather, also named Irad Ortiz, was a jockey, and so is his uncle, Ivan Ortiz.
Ortiz has enjoyed great success since moving to the US in 2013 and enjoyed a career-best year in 2014 when winning 15 graded stakes races. His highlights were two Gr 1 victories on Sweet Reason and the season was topped off with a win in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf on Lady Eli, his first Breeders’ Cup victory.
Ortiz has ridden many popular horses throughout his young career, including 2012 champion 3-year-old filly Questing, Kid Cruz, Vyjack and Birdatthewire.
Mike de Kock commented: “Christophe Soumillon has contractual obligations, he has to ride for the Aga Khan and won’t be able to make it to the Belmont for Mubtaahij. But I think we have found a good replacement here. Irad Ortiz comes highly recommended and he knows his way around Belmont.”