Reigning two-time Eclipse Award winner Irad Ortiz Jr. tested positive for COVID-19 and will not return to the saddle Sunday as originally scheduled.
Daily Racing Form’s David Grening reported on social media that Ortiz Jr., who Saturday serves the final of 10 days of suspensions to start the Belmont Park fall meet, is asymptomatic. Agent Steve Rushing has Oct. 8 penciled in as the return date for Ortiz, who has not ridden since Sept. 16 while serving a pair of suspensions.
“He was as surprised as anyone when he found out,” Rushing told DRF of the positive test.
Ortiz Jr. is fresh off a jockey’s title at Saratoga this summer and is a five-time leading rider at the Belmont Park fall meet. The 28-year-old from Puerto Rico won the Eclipse Award for North America’s outstanding jockey in 2018 and 2019, which usurped the title from brother Jose Ortiz, the 2017 winner.
In 2020, Ortiz Jr. has ridden 234 winners and banked $14.78 million to lead all jockeys in both categories.