When the bell goes off for the Kentucky Derby 2014 race on May 3, leading jockeys and brothers Jose and Irad Ortiz, Jr. will both be in a saddle.
Jose, 20, and Irad, 21, who will be riding horses Samraat and Uncle Singh respectively in Saturday’s Kentucky Derby race, both hail from Puerto Rico. They will also be only the fourth set of brothers and the first from Puerto Rico to ride in the Derby’s history.
In the 1984 Derby, brothers Eddie and Sam Maple raced against each other. A decade earlier there was a race between brothers Chris and Gregg McCarron. Brothers Angel and Ismael Valenzuela both rode in the 1960 Derby, riding Henrijan and Divine Comedy, respectively.
The Kentucky Derby 2014 race including two brothers will also be special because they are the youngest pair of siblings to race against each other.
Both brothers are also riding New York-born horses. If one of them wins, they will join only one other New York horse to have won the Kentucky Derby, 2002 champion Funny Cide.
Jose’s horse, Samraat, was on a five-race winning streak when he was defeated by Wicked Strong in the Wood Memorial. The Ortiz brothers have been on the fast track to the Kentucky Derby since they arrived in New York and are now at the top of the New York Racing Association.
The brothers have had a quick rise during their brief time in New York. Irad won 151 races in his first year in New York in 2011. By 2013, he won 223 races and became a top jockey. Jose had 98 wins in 2012 and in 2013 he won 224 wins.
In an interview with AmericasBestRacing.net, the brothers said that people in their native Puerto Rico are “very happy” about them riding in the Kentucky Derby 2014 races.
“The news there, a famous channel in Puerto Rico, did an interview with me and my brother as ‘the first brothers from Puerto Rico going to the Derby,’” said Irad in the interview.
Jose added that their parents will be at the race, and though they are competing, the brothers will also support each other.
“It’s a dream for us to do this right now and that they’ve let us do this,” said Irad, who added that to prepare for his trip to Kentucky and his race in the Derby, he is reviewing his horses race replays.
Both said that they don’t feel nervous about the big day next week.
“Maybe when we get closer there will be some nerves, but not yet,” said Jose of riding in the Kentucky Derby 2014 race.