Apprentice Rider Ortiz Graduates at Tampa

Puerto Rican native scores for trainer Gerald Bennett in a claiming race Feb. 26.

Apprentice jockey David T. Ortiz scored the first win of his professional career on Hebop, who won the eighth race Feb. 26 at Tampa Bay Downs (VIDEO).

Gerald Bennett gave the 18-year-old rider a leg up on the 4-year-old Florida-bred gelding owned by Winning Stables and Mike Anderson for the $8,000 claiming race at seven furlongs on the main track.

Both Oritz and 6-1 shot Hebop had 13 previous starts, the difference being Hebop had won once while Ortiz had not. But when Ortiz urged Hebop up the rail late for a head victory from onrushing Run Jac Run, the youngster from Puerto Rico had his first victory.

Ortiz appeared to be unprepared for the initiation ceremony, in which he absorbed two buckets of ice water on his head, but tried his best to stay on an even keel.

"The plan was to be patient, save ground, make one move and finish strong," Ortiz said through an interpreter, fellow jockey Willie Martinez. "I'm thankful to the trainer and owner for making me very happy with my first victory."

Then, Ortiz broke into a grin. "I'm surprised I didn't get it worse (in the initiation) because the ones I saw in Puerto Rico, it's really a mess," he said.