Jose Ortiz has ridden in the Kentucky Derby (G1) four times and came close to grabbing the roses last year when he was aboard champion Good Magic, who finished second to eventual Triple Crown winner Justify.
This year, he is set to ride Juddmonte Farms’ homebred Tacitus, the leading point-earner on the Road to the Kentucky Derby leaderboard with 150 points by virtue of victories in the Wood Memorial Presented by NYRA Bets (G2) and Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby (G2).
“I have been with him all along,” Ortiz said Thursday morning at Keeneland, where he is riding for the rest of the Spring Meet before going to Churchill Downs for Derby Week. “He was green his first two races; Tampa Bay was OK and the Wood was OK. I think he will be better next time.”
Tacitus was fourth in his debut Oct. 4 at Belmont and hasn’t lost since beginning with a maiden victory Nov. 10 at Aqueduct.
Tacitus is the first foal of champion Close Hatches, a five-time Grade 1 winner.
“I did not ride her,” said Ortiz, the 2017 Eclipse Award winner as the outstanding rider in North America. “She came around in 2013 and I just had my (apprentice allowance) and wasn’t riding big horses then.”