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Wednesday, December 7, 2016 10:10 PM
  • General


FLORENCE, Ky. (Dec. 7, 2016) – John A. Ortiz earned his first career training win Wednesday when Julie Burke guided Red Charm to victory in the fifth race at Turfway Park.

Born Feb. 24, 1986, in Colombia, Ortiz was toddling around the racetrack at the age of two, cheering on his father, jockey Carlos Ortiz. The top apprentice rider in Colombia, the elder Ortiz moved his tack to New York to ride the Mid-Atlantic circuit and his family followed when John Ortiz was five years old.

At age 16 John Ortiz began his career walking hots for trainer Bill Mott. Over the next six or seven years he worked his way up to groom, then to foreman and finally to traveling assistant. He also galloped horses for Mott.  He next joined Graham Motion’s staff, staying until 2010. A year-long stint with Barclay Tagg’s barn brought him to Kentucky, where he met trainer Kellyn Gorder. He joined Gorder’s barn in 2011 as head assistant, staying until he went out on his own in November 2016.

“When I was 21, I said I wanted to be a trainer by the time I was 30,” Ortiz said. He proved prophetic and the year proved momentous; Ortiz not only took out his trainer’s license this year at age 30 but also was married this year and welcomed his first child.

Ortiz currently has 16 horses in his barn, two of which he owns, including Red Charm. His primary owner is Tommy Julian, who first contacted Ortiz to claim horses for him at Churchill Downs. “Mr. Julian gave me my start as a trainer,” Ortiz said.

Ridden by Julie Burke, Red Charm sat off the pace before coming five wide into the stretch and drawing clear to win the one-mile test for 2-year-old maiden fillies by 2-1/4 lengths. Making her sixth start, the Gio Ponti filly was bred in Kentucky by John R. Penn and is out of the Lord Avie mare Radiant Avie.


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