Jockey Jose Ortiz to have knee surgery, will miss six weeks

Jose Ortiz, a leading contender for the Eclipse Award as North America's outstanding jockey, will undergo minor knee surgery on Dec. 5 and miss at least six weeks of action, his agent, Jim Riccio Jr., said Wednesday.

Ortiz injured his left knee in a spill at Belmont Park on Sept. 20, which forced him to miss a week of action. While Ortiz is not riding in pain, Riccio said doctors advised him to have his knee "cleaned up." The goal is to have Ortiz return by the end of January, hopefully in time to ride the $16 million Pegasus World Cup on Jan. 27 at Gulfstream Park.

Ortiz will continue to ride a full schedule through the first weekend of December. On Nov. 26, he is scheduled to ride Rubilinda in the Grade 1 Matriarch at Del Mar. On Dec. 2, he is scheduled to ride Seymourdini in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile at Aqueduct.

Ortiz, 24, entered this week as the nation's leading rider in terms of purse money earned with $26,094,436, nearly $3 million more than Javier Castellano, the four-time reigning Eclipse Award-winning jockey. Ortiz ranks fourth in wins with 248, 26 fewer than his brother Irad.

Ortiz ranks third nationally in graded stakes wins with 28. He has won 13 Grade 1 races, including the Belmont Stakes on Tapwrit and the Breeders' Cup Juvenile on Good Magic.

"We think we've done enough to win the Eclipse Award," Riccio said.