LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Jose and Irad Ortiz Jr. join select company on Saturday when the brothers ride against each other in the Kentucky Derby.
It doesn’t happen often.
The most recent set of siblings in the same Derby were Eddie and Sam Maple in 1984. The others were Chris and Greg McCarron in 1976, and Milo and Angel Valenzuela in 1960. None of the brothers won the race in the year they competed against each other, although Chris McCarron is a two-time winner and Milo Valenzuela won once.
The 20-year-old Jose rides 15-1 shot Samraat, while Irad, who is a year older, has the mount on an even longer shot, 30-1 Uncle Sigh.
The two rising stars from Puerto Rico are based in New York and will be making their Derby debuts.
Irad’s mounts earned over $14.3 million last year, ranking fifth in the nation. Jose wasn’t far behind at $12.6 million.
“They still live very conservative lifestyles,” said Rick Violette, Samraat’s trainer. “They just love to ride. They’re nice kids and they’ve maintained their balance through everything, which doesn’t always happen.”
Both attended jockey school in Puerto Rico and cite Angel Cordero Jr. and John Velazquez, a pair of Hall of Fame riders from the island, as idols and mentors.
“The Derby has been my dream, and now it’s coming true,” Jose Ortiz said.
ALL CLEAR: The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission said Friday that the 75 out-of competition doping tests of horses running on Derby weekend came back clean.
The commission tested all Kentucky Oaks and Derby horses while randomly selecting runners from other stakes races at Churchill Downs on Friday and Saturday.
Samples were collected over the previous two weeks.
“I’m pleased to say that all the test results were negative,” KHRC equine medical director Dr. Mary Scollay said. “We believe out-of-competition testing is critical to the integrity of these events and appreciate the high level of cooperation we have received from horsemen and regulators alike in implementing this program.”
DERBY FUN: Corporate America is having some fun with the 140th Derby.
Take the contest offered by Cottonelle, the bathroom products company. Fans play the “great finish” on the company’s website.
In the event the horse listed No. 1 in the program, Vicar’s In Trouble, and the horse listed No. 2, Harry’s Holiday, finish in that exact order, 15,000 people will win the tidy prize of a year’s supply of toilet paper and flushable cleaning cloths.
Rum maker Captain Morgan is taking a longer view, and rooting for a Triple Crown winner.
In the event one horse sweeps the Derby, Preakness and Belmont stakes, Captain Morgan will offer the winning owner a $3 million ransom in exchange for one of the eventual sire’s first born.
The foal would be named Captain’s Cola and fans could win shares in the horse’s earnings in a future contest.
ALL CLEAR: Things seem to be coming together nicely for the Derby on the weather front.
It was wet and stormy during the early part of the week, and then a cold front moved through Louisville.
The forecast calls for sunny skies for Saturday’s post time of 6:24 p.m. EDT, with temperatures in the low 70s.
A note of caution for those wearing fancy hats: it will be breezy with wind gusts picking up later in the afternoon.