Migliore: Irad Ortiz's 'Unnecessary' Jockeying Took Credit Away From Life Is Good - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Migliore: Irad Ortiz’s ‘Unnecessary’ Jockeying Took Credit Away From Life Is Good

Irad Ortiz, Jr., aboard eventual winner Life Is Good, takes a look back over his left shoulder at rival Happy Saver (John Velazquez) in the stretch run of Saturday’s Grade 1 Whitney Stakes

Award-winning retired jockey-turned-broadcaster Richard Migliore was not impressed by the stretch ride that three-time Eclipse Award-winning jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. gave Life Is Good in Saturday's Grade 1 Whitney Stakes at Saratoga.

Ortiz looked over his left shoulder at about the eighth pole nearing the finish and saw Happy Saver a couple lengths back on the rail, then opted to guide Life Is Good over to cross in front of that rival. John Velazquez adjusted course to the outside of Life Is Good, and Ortiz allowed Life Is Good to drift out for the remainder of the stretch run as he rolled to the wire two lengths clear of Happy Saver.

“I'm not a fan of this move,” Migliore said on the NYRA broadcast after the race. “I think Irad is a tremendously talented rider, but sometimes he just gets carried away.

“You're on the best horse, you're going to win, the wire's in front of you, it's not to the left of you, it's not to the right of you. Making these horses move all their weight, or shift all their weight and momentum one direction, to me, this is when horses get injured. You don't need to do it, first of all, and second of all it takes, to me, the credit away from the horse. The conversation should have been about what a tremendous effort that Life Is Good put forth, and instead it puts the attention to Irad and him switching all around, going left, going right, and I think unnecessarily.”

There were no jockey objections or stewards' inquiry based on the stretch run.

Ortiz's post-race comments to the NYRA press office included a brief statement about the stretch run.

“I was clear [in the stretch],” Ortiz said. “I looked and came down a little bit. I know if he felt somebody that he would give me another run and more. I know he's coming back a little, the track is not that fast, so if he feels somebody he will fight. I know he will fight, so that is why I was looking.”

John Velazquez, aboard Happy Saver, also commented on the stretch run.

“He [Life Is Good] was two lengths in front of me, there was nothing I could do,” Velazquez told the NYRA press office. “Even if I claimed foul there was nothing they were going to do – he was clear. Obviously, he was really clear when he went in and I pulled mine out and that was it. We just switched positions, that's all it was. He was that clear when he went in that I went outside with no trouble at all.”

At the end of 2021, Ortiz was handed a 30-day suspension by NYRA stewards for a pair of careless riding infractions at Aqueduct. He has since been suspended twice more, each for a five-day span, for additional careless riding issues at Gulfstream Park and at Royal Ascot.

Paulick Report Icon

Receive daily headlines, breaking news alerts, promotions, and much more!

Become An Insider

Support our journalism and access bonus content on our Patreon stream

Learn More