01/22/2013 4:38PM

Aqueduct: Tug of War has Irad Ortiz ready to score

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Tom Keyser
Tug of War has won previously without the lead and may revert to off-the-pace tactics as he steps in with open company in Thursday's Aqueduct feature.

After combining to win 30 of 54 races run at Aqueduct last week, what will the Ortiz brothers do for an encore? That question will be answered in part Thursday, when apprentice Jose Ortiz rides the entire card and older brother Irad rides the first eight races, capped by a return call on Tug of War, the 8-5 morning-line choice in a first-level allowance that serves as the feature.

Tug of War, scratched by trainer Mike Hushion from Sunday’s Turnofthecentury overnight stakes to await this easier spot, was a punctual 4-5 favorite against second-level New York-bred allowance routers first out at the winter meet. He made all the pace and was geared down through the late stages by Irad Ortiz Jr., who was sidelined earlier this month because of a sprained ankle, but returned to win 17 races last week, highlighted by a five-bagger on Monday’s holiday program.

Tug of War has won previously without the lead and may revert to off-the-pace tactics as he steps in with open company, as Mordi’s Miracle, Rein King, and Shankopotamus all have speed.

Mordi’s Miracle disappointed in his first four starts for Todd Pletcher, but switched from turf to dirt during the final week of racing at the fall meet to wire a one-mile maiden special weight with a huge Beyer Speed Figure of 96. In preparation for his 4-year-old debut, the Zayat Sable homebred has turned in three workouts, including five furlongs in a bullet 1:01.20.

Jose Ortiz, who held a 41-38 meet lead on his brother after winning 13 races last week, replaces Irad on Rein King, a speedy gelding who set a fast pace to midstretch under these conditions last time out for trainer John Terranova.

Shankopotamus, who relishes off going, will be making his first start beyond seven furlongs for Linda Rice.

Burned Bridges steps up in class for Randi Persaud, after winning his first two starts on the inner track – a maiden special and a starter-optional claimer – at the turn of the year.

This Hard Land, who rallied from last to finish second in a photo first out at the meet, completes the field of six older runners. A deep closer with eight in-the-money finishes from nine starts on the inner track, the Rodrigo Ubillo-trained This Hard Land may get a favorable pace setup for his late run.

wolves More than 1 year ago
sorry, but these guys are overrated as jockeys. Passive, not a good sense of pace, don't get much run from their horses, not good tacticians. It's never a "plus" when you see they are riding your horse. I mark them as average.
Pom De Terre More than 1 year ago
you must have lost your shirt sunday when they took the 1st seven- and not all were chalk. i also think you're confusing both of them with junior alvarado who can put a horse to sleep in the starting gate. these 2 are both excellent riders in an otherwise shallow aqueduct pool right now.
Dean More than 1 year ago
these guys are both riding great I give edge long run to Irad. Nice to see some fresh blood with talent in NY...The many of the old NYRA colony so LAME....yes your included Luzzi!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
They should injoy it while they can, because after Ramon returns it will all be over.
Thomas Ponterella More than 1 year ago
Good luck to both otiz brothers I have the honor of meeting the mother and father of both jock's at the saratoga meet. and they are humbel people from puarto rico bunch of nice folk's good luck to both.