One turned 21 in January, the other is a second generation jockey and both apprentice riders Yomar Ortiz and Trevor McCarthy sit atop the Laurel Park winter meet standings.
Maryland-based apprentice riders have captured nine of the 42 Eclipse Awards for Outstanding Apprentice with Chris McCarron (1974), Ronnie Franklin (1978), Alberto Delgado (1982), Allen Stacy (1986), Kent Desormeaux (1987), Mike Luzzi (1989), Mark Johnston (1990), Jeremy Rose (2001) and Ryan Fogelsonger (2002) all being honored. The last dominating apprentice in the state was Rosie Napravnik, who won 279 races during her bug year (2005-2006).
“Both are talented,” said Sheldon Russell, the top first-year rider in Maryland six years ago. “This has always been a place where bug riders do well. I would love to see one of these guys win the Eclipse Award.”
Ortiz leads all riders with 37 victories, which includes four three-win afternoons. The Bayamon, Puerto Rico native rode his first winner at Gulfstream 11 months ago before moving his tack to Delaware Park last summer. He then relocated to Laurel last fall where he finished fifth in the standings.
“I remember him from the summer at Delaware,” added Russell. “He started winning a lot of races late in that meet for Juan Vazquez and that translated right to Laurel.”
McCarthy, the son of former rider Mike McCarthy, is one win behind Ortiz. The 18-year-old rode a career-high four winners on January 1 and earned his first stakes victory earlier this month. After graduating from high school last spring, he began riding at Parx Racing then headed to Maryland in December.
“He is a hard-working kid,” said Russell, who ranks third in the current standings. “He is young but I feel he is a couple years ahead of some of the guys in the (jocks) room despite his age and that isn't surprising because of his father. He is a polite kid but is motivated to win. You can see that in the afternoon.”
Wednesday afternoon, McCarthy matched his career-high day by winning four times, with victories aboard Avie ($8.40-1st), Plowshare ($19.80-2nd), Hanky Doodle ($7.80-8th) and Twin Cities ($3.20-9th). It is his seventh multiple-win day of the month.
“I am definitely riding with more confidence and am more comfortable,” McCarthy said. “I am getting support from the trainers and am basically riding the entire card every day. With that I am working on getting good trips and getting the most out of every horse, regardless of the odds.”
Ortiz failed to reach the winners' circle for just the second time since February 9.
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