Irad Ortiz, Jr. earns riding title, Chad Brown leading trainer at Belmont at the Big A fall meet
by Mary Eddy
Jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. paced all other riders at the Belmont at the Big A fall meet to secure the leading rider title with 35 wins. Ortiz, Jr. completed the 28-day meet, which ran from September 15 to October 30, with a record of 149-35-32-19, finishing ahead of Hall of Famer Javier Castellano in second [27 wins] with Manny Franco and Jose Lezcano tied for third [23 wins].
Ortiz, Jr., a native of Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico, amassed $3,663,019 in earnings for his strong showing, posting a win rate of 23.49 percent and an in-the-money percentage of 57.72.
“It feels great,” said Ortiz, Jr. after securing the title aboard the Chad Brown-trained Disruption in Sunday’s first race. “I’ve been having big support since I got here, so I appreciate everyone for the help – all the trainers and owners. I’m blessed and happy to keep riding here in New York. I’m so happy for that. We keep working and my agent, Steve Rushing, does a great job.”
Ortiz, Jr. earned his 21st NYRA meet title on the heels of a strong summer meet at Saratoga Race Course where he posted 55 wins. His Belmont at the Big A fall meet highlights include Grade 1 triumphs aboard Life Is Good in the Woodward and Chocolate Gelato in the Frizette, both among the favorites in their respective Breeders’ Cup races on Friday and Saturday at Keeneland.
Ortiz, Jr. also scored a Grade 3 win in the Jockey Club Oaks Invitational aboard McKulick, as well as Grade 2 wins with Breeders’ Cup hopefuls in the Miss Grillo [Pleasant Passage], Pilgrim [Major Dude] and Beldame [Nest]. He posted additional stakes victories in the Joseph A. Gimma [Gambling Girl], Awad [Freedom Trail], Hudson [My Boy Tate] and Empire Distaff [Let Her Inspire U].
“I rode a lot of good horses – Pleasant Passage, Major Dude, Life Is Good, Chocolate Gelato,” said Ortiz, Jr. “They all ran here and are important winners, and it’s on to the Breeders’ Cup next for them. I’m so happy.”
Four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown earned his fourth NYRA meet title of the year with 24 winners, finishing ahead of Linda Rice in second [18 wins] and Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher in third [17 wins]. It was the 11th consecutive Belmont fall meet title for Brown, who posted a record of 99-24-21-10 with earnings of $2,699,916.
Among Brown’s wins were seven stakes victories, capped by a Grade 1 triumph with Blazing Sevens in the Champagne on October 1, awarding the Good Magic colt a berth into the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile on Friday at Keeneland. His other stakes scores came with Grade 3 wins in the Jockey Club Oaks Invitational [McKulick], Pebbles [Faith in Humanity], Athenia [Love And Thunder] and Fasig-Tipton Waya [Rocky Sky]. Brown also sent out Implicated to victory in the Chelsey Flower and Boston Post Road in the Pumpkin Pie.
Brown enjoyed a strong win rate of 24.24 percent and finished in-the-money in 55.56 percent of his starts.
Peter Brant finished atop the owners standings with eight victories, ahead of Klaravich Stables and Michael Dubb, who tied for second with seven wins each. Brant’s wins were led by stakes scores with Brown trainees Rocky Sky in the Grade 3 Fasig-Tipton Waya and Boston Post Road in the Pumpkin Pie. Brant celebrates his first owner’s title at NYRA since tying with Noda Brothers [4 wins] for last year’s Aqueduct spring meet.
Brant boasts a record of 19-8-4-1 with earnings of $584,620, good for a win rate of 42.11 percent and in-the-money percentage of 68.42. Reeves Thoroughbred Racing and Repole Stable tied for fourth with six wins each.
Live racing resumes on Friday for Opening Day of the 29-day Aqueduct fall meet, which offers 33 stakes worth a total of $6.375 million, and is highlighted by the Grade 1, $750,000 Cigar Mile Handicap on Saturday, December 3. First post on Friday’s card, which features the Grade 3, $150,000 Turnback the Alarm, is 11:35 a.m. Eastern. Doors open at 10 a.m.
America's Day at the Races will present live coverage of the Aqueduct fall meet on the networks of FOX Sports. For the broadcast schedule and channel finder, visit https://www.nyra.com/aqueduct/racing/tv-schedule.