Jose Ortiz, a top candidate for the 2017 Eclipse Award as outstanding jockey in North America, should return to competition sooner than expected after undergoing minor knee surgery Dec. 5 at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York.
Jim Riccio Jr., Ortiz's agent, said doctors are confident his client will be able to resume riding Jan. 1 at Gulfstream Park. That would give Ortiz ample time to shake off any rust before the $16-million Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes (G1) Jan. 27 at Gulfstream.
"It's much quicker than we thought and there was less cleanup than we thought," said Riccio. He noted that a minimal amount of scar tissue was removed. The initial projection was that Ortiz would be sidelined for six weeks.
Ortiz injured his left knee during in a spill Sept. 20 at Belmont Park, initially sidelining him for one week.
As of Dec. 5, Ortiz led all riders with $27,181,860 in purse earnings. His top wins this season include the Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets (G1) on Tapwrit, his first Triple Crown win; and in the Sentient Jet Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) with Good Magic.