José Ortiz is ‘leading candidate’ to ride Kingsbarns in Ky. Derby

José Ortiz is ‘leading candidate’ to ride Kingsbarns in Ky. Derby
Photo: Eclipse Sportswire

Trainer Todd Pletcher said José Ortiz was “the leading candidate” to ride Kingsbarns on May 6 in Kentucky Derby 2023.

The Hall of Fame trainer told reporters Wednesday in a National Thoroughbred Racing Association teleconference that Ortiz would work out the Uncle Mo colt Saturday morning at Churchill Downs. Ortiz was due to ride Thursday at Aqueduct and Friday at Keeneland.

“We have not made a final decision,” Pletcher said. “In talking to the (owners) at Spendthrift, there’s a very solid chance that José Ortiz is going to breeze the horse, so right now he’s the leading candidate. We’ve got to circle back with those guys, and we’ll make a final decision in the near future.”

Fair odds: Ed DeRosa offers latest line on Kentucky Derby.

Ortiz’s agent Steve Rushing corroborated what Pletcher said about Ortiz riding the Louisiana Derby (G2) winner.

“Not confirmed,” Rushing said in a text message to Horse Racing Nation. “Jose will work him at (Churchill Downs) on Saturday, waiting for Todd and Spendthrift to make a final decision.”

If Ortiz indeed comes on board, he would be riding for the eighth time in the Derby. He has finished in the money twice when Good Magic placed second in 2018 and Tacitus third in 2019.

Pletcher has three of the top five horses in the Las Vegas futures market for the Derby. Eclipse Award winner Forte, who will be ridden by Ortiz’s brother Irad, was best priced as the 5-2 favorite on Wednesday. Tapit Trice, the Blue Grass (G1) winner ridden by Luis Sáez, was the 6-1 second choice.

If both Ortiz brothers start, it will be the sixth time they have met in the Derby. José’s horses have finished ahead of Irad four times.

Entries for the Kentucky Derby will be taken Monday, when a field of up to 20 horses and four also-eligibles will be drawn for the May 6 race.


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