Jamaica's Rajiv Maragh takes a break from the saddle

Horse Racing

Jamaica's Rajiv Maragh takes a break from the saddle

…so too Irad Ortiz Jnr and other top US jockeys, citing COVID-19

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

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Jockey Rajiv Maragh took to Twitter on Thursday last [March 19] to announce that he will no longer be race riding, effective immediately, “for the best chance of staying healthy for myself and family”.

While Maragh did not specifically mention the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, he said the hiatus will last “until things are in better order”, hinting at the highly contagious virus that has affected racetracks, including Gulfstream Park, where Maragh is based during the winter.

A winner of 1,902 races aboard 15,522 mounts, the Jamaican-born Maragh, 34, was listed as the jockey in one race at Gulfstream Park on Friday and four on Saturday.

With mounts amassing over US$101 million in purse money over his 15-year career, Maragh has ridden four winners from 133 mounts in 2020. His career highlights include back-to-back victories in the 2013 and 2013 Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprints aboard Groupie Doll.

Maragh was the first-known jockey from a top circuit to discontinue race riding during the epidemic. Other riders have taken precautions, such as the decisions made by Irad Ortiz Jr, Luis Saez and Tyler Gaffalione to pass on the March 28 Dubai World Cup night due to concerns over travel restrictions and quarantine.

Two-time Eclipse Award winner Ortiz Jr announced Thursday that he's going on hiatus while racing continues behind closed doors, but the spread of COVID-19 remains a threat.

In a post to his Twitter account, Ortiz, named the outstanding rider of 2018 and 2019, said that “this is the safest decision for my family and myself. Hopefully, we can all make it safely out of this quarantine sooner than later and get back to what we all love”.

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