Third time could be the charm for new trainer John Ortiz when he saddles Sully's Dream in Wednesday's ninth race at Churchill Downs.
With only two starts under his belt as a trainer, the former assistant to Kellyn Gorder is anxious to make his first trip to the winner's circle and has always had ambitions of going out on his own.
“When I was 22 years old I told myself that my ultimate goal was to be a trainer by the time I'm 30,” Ortiz said. “This year I got engaged, had a child and here I am at age 30 with my own stable.”
Ortiz has learned from some of the best in the game when it comes to being a successful trainer including Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott who he worked for as a foreman at Belmont Park. He also worked at Fair Hill for trainer Graham Motion as his travelling assistant.
“Mott really got me started showing me what I need to know, including galloping horses,” Ortiz said. “I started working for him when I was 15 and obviously I was real young at the time so I was taught a lot about responsibility and simply having a job. I had to learn how to always do right by the horse. He's kind of old school so he stressed having a strong work ethic and good horsemanship. Mott is about as good of a horseman as there is.
“I learned a lot from Graham, and with him I took in a lot on how to manage a barn,” Ortiz said. “I didn't really ask questions. I learned by being observant and I watched how he handles his help. I just loved the way Graham handles his stable. He runs it a lot like a business. He's such a class act the way he goes about things and I was very fortunate to have worked for him. When I started working for Kellyn I tried to handle his barn the way that Graham did with his.”
Ortiz believes that Sully's Dream, who put on a tremendous display of effort when breaking her maiden by 12 lengths at Ellis Park over the summer, is something special.
“Kellyn and I were both in agreement that Sully's Dream is one of the best fillies that have gone through the barn,” Ortiz said. “I've been working with the filly ever since she got off the farm. I helped her get ready for her first start so she's been under my care and she's very talented. She's only 2, but she's outworked a lot of the older horses. We worked her in company with Whateverybodywants who was second to Cupid in the (Aug. 6) West Virginia Derby (GII).”
Ortiz expressed gratefulness in the time he worked under Gorder.
“I'm very grateful for the time that I have spent working for Kellyn,” Ortiz said. “He showed me a lot about pedigrees and race planning, but he has always been very supportive of me and wanted to help me achieve my goals.”
Sully's Dream isn't the only horse that Ortiz has running on Wednesday. He also runs Memphisinmay at Hawthorne on the same day.
“To win both would be incredible,” Ortiz said.
New to the Paulick Report? Click here to sign up for our daily email newsletter to keep up on this and other stories happening in the Thoroughbred industry.
Copyright © 2020 Paulick Report.