Brown; Ortiz Jr. capture Aqueduct fall meet titles
by Brian Bohl
Chad Brown led all trainers with 17 victories and jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. earned another riding title with 29 wins as the 25-day fall meet at Aqueduct Racetrack concluded following Sunday's live race card.
Drawing Away Stable notched two wins on Closing Day, tying Klaravich Stables with nine wins apiece to share the top spot on the leaderboard for owners.
Ortiz, Jr. won his first NYRA circuit meet title since the 2018 Belmont fall meet, tallying a 29-22-15 record in 119 mounts for earnings of more than $1.72 million. Among his highlights was piloting Empressof the Nile to a half-length win in the Zagora on November 3.
The 27-year-old native of Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico earned his 16th riding title for an individual meet. The three-time year-end NYRA leading rider [2014-15, 17], Ortiz, Jr. won his second Aqueduct fall meet crown and first since 2015. Jose Lezcano was second with 24 wins in 125 mounts.
"You need the horses first and you need the help from the trainers and owners, and they give me the help. If they give me the horses I can win races," Ortiz, Jr. said. "Without them, it wouldn't be possible."
Brown was the top conditioner for a fourth consecutive New York Racing Association meet, building on his efforts in the Belmont spring/summer, his third overall H. Allen Jerkens title as the Saratoga summer meet's leading trainer, and his Belmont fall crown.
With 61 starters, Brown's runners finished 17-9-11, winning 27.87 percent of the time while amassing earnings of $1.04 million. His win total was five more than second-place finisher Linda Rice.
The Mechanicville, New York native has won the last three Eclipse Awards for Outstanding Trainer and has been NYRA's year-ending leading trainer for the last four years and is likely to extend his run to a fifth year, holding a 45-win edge over Rice in the 2019 standings.
Brown recorded his first title at Aqueduct since the 2018 spring meet, including a $70,000 maiden victory with Cost Basis on the stacked Cigar Mile Day card on Saturday.
Klaravich Stables enjoyed another successful slate, finishing as the top owner for a fifth consecutive meet, starting with a tie in the Aqueduct spring meet and continuing with the Belmont spring/summer meet, Saratoga and Belmont fall. Klaravich finished with nine wins, four runner-up efforts and five third-place finishes in 22 starts for earnings of $464,135.
Drawing Away Stable saw a pair of big-priced winners on Sunday to tie Klaravich, with Summer Bourbon taking a six-furlong claiming contest in Race 2, returning $23.60 on a $2 win bet. Twisted Tom pulled an even bigger upset in Race 8, winning a 1 1/8-mile optional claimer at 14-1 odds, paying $30.40. In total, Drawing Away Stable, the NYRA leading owner for 2013, finished the meet with a 9-4-1 record and earnings of $306,475 in 25 starts.
Thoroughbred action will remain at Aqueduct for the 2019-20 winter meet, which will commence on Thursday, December 12 and run through Sunday, March 29. The meet will offer 45 stakes in total.
Stakes action will kick off with New York-bred talent competing in the New York Stallion Stakes Series. Saturday, December 14 will see 2-year-olds going seven furlongs in the $500,000 Great White Way while the 2-year-old fillies will run in the $500,000 Fifth Avenue on December 15.
January will feature 17 dates with live racing generally conducted Thursday through Sunday with the exception of New Year's Day, a Wednesday card highlighted by the $150,000 Jerome for freshly minted 3-year-olds, as part of New York's road to the Kentucky Derby. The Martin Luther King, Jr. Day holiday card is slated for Monday, January 20 and features the $100,000 Interborough for fillies and mares 4-years-old and up. There will be no live racing on Thursday, January 2 and Thursday, January 16 to accommodate the special holiday cards.