On May 4, jockeys Irad and Jose Ortiz will be riding in the 145h Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. Irad will be aboard Bob Baffert’s Improbable, while Jose partners Tacitus. Both are considered to have legitimate shots to win. TVG met with the riders to discuss the Kentucky Derby, and what the Run for the Roses means to them.
Q: What was it like riding in your first Kentucky Derby? Different from how you expected? Similar? Were you nervous?
Jose: Yes, I was nervous. I was only 20 years old. I really didn’t know what to expect. I just wanted to follow (trainer) Rick (Violette)’s instructions, have a good break and be close.
Irad: It was a great experience. I enjoyed every bit of it. You always want to win but you have to have fun as well.
Q: What about navigating that 20 horse field?
Irad: It’s always difficult. You need to have patience and wait for your moment.
Q: Do you feel the pomp and circumstance, get wrapped up in the singing of My Old Kentucky Home and the other hoopla involved, or are you stoic and focussed?
Jose: A little of both. Being out there, with that huge crowd singing My Old Kentucky Home will give you goosebumps. The Kentucky Derby is horse racing, it’s the race everyone knows. But when it’s time to work, I have to shake all of that off and focus. It’s just another race and I have a job to do.
Q: Which is the Derby you would have loved to be in from the past?
Jose: 1978 When Affirmed won with Steve Cauthen. That rivalry was epic.
Read the full article on https://www.tvg.com/blog/2019/04/29/ortiz-brothers-derby-interview/