The finalists in apprentice jockey category posed an apparent problem for Eclipse voters, with the inclusion of Irad Ortiz, Jr., who racked up over $9 million dollars in earnings, while winning grade I stakes aboard champion 3-year-old filly Questing and Poseidon's Warrior and a grade II stakes on Handsome Mike.
Jose Montano, on the other hand, plied his trade mainly at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races in West Virginia, winning no graded stakes. On paper, it seemed like a no-brainer. But the fact was that Ortiz lost his bug on Feb. 2 and competed 11 months as a journeyman rider. That obviously did not escape voters, who cast their votes for the true apprentice.
Or maybe it was the fact that Montano was the leading North American-based apprentice in 2012, with 225 victories, 187 of them while still an apprentice. Unlike Ortiz, he didn't lose his bug until Oct. 14.
Montano closed out the year with earnings of $3,613,984, the vast majority of that as an apprentice.
The 26-year-old native of Mexico captured the riding title at three separate Charles Town meets during 2012, winning five stakes, three of them aboard In the Fairway, who won the Tri-State Futurity, West Virginia Vincent Moscarelli Memorial Breeders' Classic, and Henry Mercer Memorial Stakes. His other two stakes victories were aboard Waves and Tides and Twenty Hawks.
Montano began his career at Mountaineer Casino Racetrack & Resort in West Virginia, making his debut on Oct. 4, 2011. He moved his tack to Charles Town, teaming up with the track's leading trainer Jeff Runco.
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