Dubai: American jockey Jose Ortiz has done his homework to the finest details as he targets a winning debut at the 24th running of the Dubai World Cup on Saturday.
The 25-year-old Puerto Rica-born will be on board American raider Yoshida as they tackle the 13-horse field at the $12 million Dubai World Cup. A toddler when Cigar won the first edition in 1996, Ortiz has come a long way from watching the Dubai World Cup race on television to making the trans-Atlantic trip for the very first time this year.
A consistent feature on the New York Thoroughbred horse racing circuit since 2012, Ortiz was the leading jockey in North America with a number of wins, including his first win at the Breeders’ Cup. In 2017, he earned the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey after he led the earnings list and won the first Triple Crown race at the Belmont Stakes.
“Ever since I knew I would be travelling to Dubai, I have watched a lot of videos. I’ve watched the races while paying attention to all minor details such as how the track plays out and the strategies adopted by other jockeys on this surface,” Ortiz told media on Thursday.
“It was a dream to come here and ride. It is simply such an amazing experience for me. I remember watching this all on television growing up, and now I am actually here. It is truly like a dream come true,” he added.
“To be riding these kind of races is what every jockey dreams of. It’s an amazing moment for me to have this opportunity,” he insisted.
Ortiz married jockey Taylor Rice at the end of 2016, but his wife couldn’t make it to Dubai this time because their daughter Leilani is not even two years old. “So undertaking such a long trip could be quite a task for her,” Ortiz said.
His bond with Yoshida goes a long time back. Trained by William Mott and owned by China Horse Club, WinStar Farm LLC, Ortiz rode the five-year-old to victory in the Turf Classic at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby Day last year. “I took Yoshida out when he was still a baby. I rode him in the first few starts and then Joel Rosario took over. And when I came back on him, he was an all-new and different horse altogether,” the jockey observed.
“When I took him out on the turf, he didn’t run all that good as the surface was a bit soft to his liking. To have a horse from the US and to come here and ride him and perhaps even win it would like another part of the dream. I think I have a good shot with Ysohida. That said, if it is meant to be, then its meant to be and we are here to do the best we can. I think he will do well here on Saturday,” Ortiz said.