New York-based jockey Jose Ortiz secured the 1,000th victory of his career when he guided Moonlight Song to a three-quarter-length victory in the $100,000 John Morrissey Stakes July 28 at Saratoga Race Course.
Ortiz, who began riding races in his native Puerto Rico in 2011, gave a shout-out to his older brother and fellow rival, Irad Jr., when discussing his milestone victory.
"This means a lot. It's a big goal in my career," Ortiz said in the winner's circle. "I'm just thankful. I want to thank every single owner and trainer who gave me the opportunity. My family, and my fiancée [Taylor Rice] who support me every day, my brother, who taught me a lot when I first started riding. Saratoga is the place to be in the summer, and I really love it. I'm very blessed I could do it here."
Ortiz has been riding in the U.S. since 2012 and has already secured six grade I wins. Those top level wins include guiding Strong Mandate to victory in the 2013 Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga, Belle Gallantey in both the 2014 Delaware Handicap at Delaware Park and Beldame at Belmont Park, the 2014 Frizette Stakes at Belmont on By the Moon, last year's Carter Handicap on Dads Caps at Aqueduct Racetrack, and this year's Mother Goose Stakes at Belmont on Off the Tracks.
Ortiz, 23, was the regular rider on last year's champion female sprinter La Verdad. He has won three straight meet riding titles at NYRA tracks, finishing atop the Aqueduct inner track standings for 2015-2016, the Aqueduct spring meet, and then running away with the recently completed Belmont spring meeting, notching 78 wins to outfinish his runner-up brother by 21 victories. He also won the 2014-15 Aqueduct inner track and spring meets.
A homebred for Albert Fried Jr., Moonlight Song secured the John Morrissey for a second straight year, completing 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:15.99.