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Jose Ortiz to ride Ontario-bred Shaman Ghost in Pegasus World Cup

Jose Ortiz to ride Shaman Ghost in Pegasus World CupTrainer Jimmy Jerkens, who is preparing Stronach Stables’ Shaman Ghost for a start in the $12 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) Jan. 28, said the mount on the Grade 1 winner will go to 2016 Eclipse Award finalist Jose Ortiz. Last week when Javier Castellano, who rode Shaman Ghost to victory in the 2016 Woodward Stakes (G1), committed to ride Keen Ice in the inaugural running of the Pegasus, Jerkens was in need of a jockey for the world’s richest race.
 
On Wednesday afternoon at Gulfstream Park, Jerkens said discussions between him and the 5-year-old’s owner Frank Stronach led them to Ortiz, who topped all North American-based jockeys in 2016 with 351 wins.
 
“Jose has really come into his own the last year or two,” Jerkens said of Ortiz, who won 23 graded stakes last year. “He used to look like he was more adept at riding speed horses, but now he has really got to where he is an all-around rider. He’s ridden a lot of good horses, but he has made the most of it, too. He’s almost been an insurance policy if a horse is a big favorite. He rides patient and he doesn’t make premature moves from what I can see.”
 
Ortiz, 23, was partnered with the Jerkens-trained Unified when the colt when last year’s Bay Shore (G3) and Peter Pan (G2) in New York. But the trainer doesn’t ride the in-demand rider on a regular basis.
 
“I kind of don’t commit to running early enough as a rule to get the leading rider,” the trainer explained. “I’ve wanted him a lot of time; I just couldn’t get him and that’s the reason why he hasn’t ridden more for me.”
 
Jerkens said Shaman Ghost, who likes to have a target to run at, needs to be ridden mindfully.
 
“You have to keep in rhythm with him all the way,” he said. “He’s a willing horse, but at the same time he wants you to ride him.”
 

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