06/15/2016 12:55PM

Jockeys Jose Ortiz, Taylor Rice announce engagement

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Jockeys Jose Ortiz and Taylor Rice are engaged to be married.

Ortiz, the leading rider in New York this year, proposed to Rice last Friday, the eve of the Belmont Stakes. Rice, who is riding at Presque Isle Downs in western Pennsylvania, was in New York because Presque Isle does not race on Fridays or Saturdays.

“This was a big weekend with the Belmont Stakes, and I wanted to propose,” said Ortiz. “We are very happy.”

Ortiz said he and Rice, the niece of trainer Linda Rice, have been dating for close to 2 1/2 years. Ortiz flew to Presque Isle for Rice’s 28th birthday on Monday, and the couple drove to Niagara Falls. Rice won two races at Presque Isle on Monday evening.

Ortiz won the Aqueduct inner-track and main-track titles this year. He holds a commanding 57-35 lead in the Belmont Park standings over his older brother, Irad Ortiz Jr., who won the Belmont Stakes aboard Creator.

Ortiz said he and Rice have not set a wedding date.