See the 12 graded stakes Irad Ortiz will miss at Belmont

See the 12 graded stakes Irad Ortiz will miss at Belmont
Photo: Eclipse Sportswire

Elmont, N.Y.

Even after a hold-your-breath fall Thursday that landed him first on the racetrack and then in an ambulance, Irad Ortiz Jr. feels well enough to ride Known Agenda on Saturday in the Belmont Stakes.

But he will not.

The reigning three-time Eclipse Award winner was even given a provisional green light by doctors to ride. Except for one important detail.

Infection.

“The doctors wanted him to take at least a week,” his agent Steve Rushing told Horse Racing Nation on Friday. “He was cleared to ride when he’s able to, but they want him to take time for the stitches to heal to avoid infection.”

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Booked for 30 races from Friday through Sunday at Belmont Park, Ortiz will miss them all, including 12 graded stakes. That is because he was bucked off first-time starter Equal Pay, a 3-year-old filly trained by Chad Brown, as they turned for home leading the fifth race Thursday. After Ortiz fell to the turf track it appeared he was clipped by a trailing horse.

“He’s got stitches in his head and (left) forearm,” Rushing said. “He wasn’t even sure that he got clipped. The CT scan was negative, and the X-rays were all negative.”

Ortiz was put on a flat board, moved to an ambulance, taken eight miles to North Shore University Hospital, examined, treated, stitched and released by 9:30 p.m. EDT on Thursday.

“He’s doing well,” Rushing said. “I just talked to him this morning, and he’s feeling better than he thought he would. His arm feels much better today.”

Trainers are scrambling to replace Ortiz.  Todd Pletcher had him on eight of his horses, including Florida Derby winner Known Agenda in the Belmont. Pletcher told HRN on Friday morning that he did not expect to have a new rider named before Saturday.

Ortiz had a full schedule through the weekend, including 9 graded stakes on Saturday (shown with morning-line odds):

Friday

* Firenze Fire (2-1), True North (G2)

   Replaced by José Ortiz

* Chub Wagon (9-5), Bed o’ Roses (G3)

   Scratched

* Virginia Joy (10-1), New York (G2)

   Replaced by Flavien Prat

* Conviction Trade (10-1), Belmont Gold Cup (G2)

   Replaced by José Ortiz

Saturday

* Drain the Clock (7-2), Woody Stephens (G1)

  Replaced by José Ortiz

* Moretti (4-1), Brooklyn (G2)

* Search Results (1-1), Acorn (G1)

* Fast Boat (5-1), Jaipur (G1)

   Replaced by John Velazquez

* Letruska (9-5), Ogden Phipps (G1)

   Replaced by José Ortiz

* Pocket Square (5-1), Just a Game (G1)

* Mischevious Alex (5-2), Met Mile (G1)

   Replaced by José Ortiz

* Colonel Liam (5-2), Manhattan (G1)

* Known Agenda (6-1), Belmont (G1)

Rushing was in Maryland when the accident happened. When he saw the video, he had the same reaction so many racing fans expressed on social media.

“It was terrible; very scary,” he said. “When we found out Irad would be out for maybe two weeks, we felt so fortunate. Then it was tough trying to get in touch with people who were calling and trying to find out, just like I was.”

Rushing admitted it was possible that Ortiz could be back in less than two weeks, saying that it was just an estimate. As he put it, “It depends on how he’s feeling.”

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