Weekly the Minnesota HBPA recognizes an outstanding groom during a winner’s circle presentation following the first race on Wednesdays. The grooms, the daily caretakers of racehorses, often go unnoticed and unrecognized by the public. Their names do not appear in the official program nor are they announced when a horse they tend to wins a race. Perhaps these men and women should receive greater accolades, for without grooms and hot walkers this sport would no longer thrive.
This week the MN HBPA is honoring Ismael Ortiz, a native of Oaxaca, Mexico. The 29-year-old has been a groom for a decade but has been around horses his entire life. He has worked for the Litfin Racing Stable of Nevada and Veronica Litfin for a year and a half.
“He’s fantastic,” Veronica said of Ismael. “He loves his horses and he is a good horseman.”
Over the winter it was Ismael that the Litfins entrusted with a string of horses at Sam Houston Race Park while they stayed at Oaklawn with the rest of the stable. That is not an easy decision for a smaller stable to make when they decide to race on more than one front.
“We sent him to Sam Houston with eight horses,” Veronica said with no reservations. “We knew he would show up every day and take great care of the horses.”
Ismael will travel with the Litfins at the end of the Canterbury race meet when they make their first foray into Louisiana at Delta Downs.