Two of the country's top jockeys, brothers Jose and Irad Ortiz, Jr. from Puerto Rico, will race against one another in the 2014 Kentucky Derby on Saturday. They're the third paid of siblings to compete against each other in the history of the event.
The jockeys said riding in one of horse racing's marquee events at Churchill Downs in Kentucky is a childhood dream come true, according to the racing website Brisnet.com.
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Irad Ortiz, Jr., 21, told AmericasBestRacing.net
that their native country is very proud of him and his brother.
"Everybody is very happy there," Ortiz, Jr. said. "We even went to the racetrack there and everybody was excited. The news there, a famous channel in Puerto Rico, did an interview with me and my brother as 'the first brothers from Puerto Rico going to the Derby.' I'm very excited and I know my brother is, too."
Jose Ortiz, 20, will ride Kentucky Derby favorite Samraat, while Irad Ortiz Jr. will be aboard Uncle Sigh, considered more of a longshot by enthusiasts.
Rick Violette, who trains Samraat, told Brisnet.com that it's rare for siblings to compete against one another.
"It's a terrific accomplishment," Violette said to Brisnet.com. "It's probably very, very limited in any sport where two brothers have reached the top; it's not usual. It's a wonderful thing that two nice kids with enormous potential (have achieved this), and they're only going to get better."
At the 1976 Kentucky Derby, brothers Chris and Gregg McCarron raced against each other. At the event in 1984, brothers Eddie and Sam Maple competed.
The Ortiz brothers are established racers. Irad Ortiz Jr. rode 223 winning horses of the 1,508 races he competed in during 2013. He earned $14.3 million that year and was ranked the fifth best jockey nationwide, Brisnet.com noted.
Last year, Jose Ortiz had 224 wins of his 1,398 races. He earned $12.6 million and was ranked 11th best among the nation's riders.
"There's competition between us everywhere," Jose Ortiz told AmericasBestRacing.net. "So we are very competitive. We just want to win; he wants to win and I want to win. I root for him if I'm not riding the race, but if I'm in the race I want to beat him."
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