- Jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. is doing well after a scary looking spill in Thursday’s 5th race at Belmont Park.
- Ortiz needed six stitches in his head and five in his left forearm following the incident.
- Ortiz will miss two weeks and as a result is off all mounts for the Belmont Stakes card. Replacements are pending.
In our Belmont Stakes handicapping report posted earlier today we reported on an incident involving jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. He had been taken to the hospital following a nasty looking incident in the fifth race on Thursday’s Belmont Park card. Initial indications were good and now updated information suggests that he’ll make a full recovery after relatively minor injuries.
Given the optics of Ortiz’s spill updated reports on his condition are downright miraculous. Ortiz was aboard Equal Pay, a first time starting filly who appeared to stumble at the 3/16th pole and in the process threw the jockey to the track. Ortiz hit the ground hard and was then tagged in the head by trailing Brook’s Edge ridden by Junior Alvarado. He also had his arm stepped on in the process of the subsequent contact which clearly cracked his helmet. He was immediately taken into care by EMTs on site at Belmont Park and stretchered to an ambulance where he was transported to North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, NY. Improbably, X-Rays and a CT scan both revealed no serious injury. He was released from the hospital not long after. Other than six stiches in his head and five in his left forearm he’s no worse for wear but will take a couple of weeks off for precautionary reasons and to heal up. According to his agent, Steve Rushing, he has no concussion-like issues.
Rushing communicated with his client via Zoom video not long after his release and said that he was surprised and relieved to see how well he was doing:
“He said he felt better today, than he did last night. I told him I don’t know what brand of helmet you have, but make sure you get another one.”
Equal Pay, the horse Ortiz was riding at the time of the incident, also appears sound according to trainer Chad Brown.
Now it appears that the biggest hit to Ortiz will be financial. He’s out of action for the next two weeks which includes Friday’s card with several stakes races and Saturday’s Belmont Stakes card which has 8 stakes races including 7 Grade 1 events. Most significantly, he was scheduled to ride Known Agenda for trainer Todd Pletcher in the Belmont Stakes. Pletcher has said he’ll wait until Saturday to name a replacement. High profile jockeys without a Belmont Stakes mount are Ortiz’s brother Jose Ortiz, Javier Castellano and Mike Smith. A late jockey change is always tough but Pletcher definitely has some good ones to pick from.
Brother Jose Ortiz picked up mounts on Saturday aboard Drain the Clock (G1 Woody Stephens Stakes) and Mischevious Alex (G1 Hill ‘n’ Dale Metropolitan Handicap). On Saturday, he’ll take his brother’s mounts aboard Firenze Fire (G2 True North Stakes) and Conviction Trade (G2 Belmont Gold Cup Stakes). Irad Ortiz, Jr. had a full schedule of mounts for Saturday and other replacements are still pending.