by Brian Bohl
Trainer Chad Brown won his third consecutive Belmont Park spring/summer individual meet title, while Irad Ortiz, Jr. captured the riding title for the first time since 2014 as the 54-day meet concluded on Sunday.
Michael Dubb was the meet's leading owner with 19 victories and earnings of more than $2.34 million.
Brown, the New York Racing Association's leading trainer for the last three years from 2015-17, saddled 34 winners from 156 starts for an impressive 21.79 winning percentage with earnings exceeding $4.53 million. His entries finished on the board 57.05 percent of the time. His win total was 13 more than the next-closest trainer, as Christophe Clement came in second with 21 wins from 92 starts.
A native of Mechanicville, New York, Brown won the Grade 1 Longines Just a Game for the second straight year, as the German-bred A Raving Beauty bested an eight-horse field by three-quarters of a length on Belmont Stakes Day on June 9. The day before that victory, Brown saddled Fourstar Crook to a win in the Grade 2 New York.
Ortiz, Jr. registered 60 wins with earnings of more than $5.54 million, outdistancing his brother, Jose Ortiz, and Manny Franco, who tied for second with 49 wins. The 2018 spring/summer meet was a reversal for the Ortiz brothers from a year ago, when Jose was first and Irad came in second.
Teaming with Brown, Ortiz, Jr. was aboard both Fourstar Crook and A Raving Beauty for their respective graded stakes wins. The native of Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico enjoyed an outstanding Belmont Stakes Day, riding Disco Partner to a win in the Grade 2 Jaipur.
Earlier in the meet, the 25-year-old won the Grade 2 Ruffian on Pacific Wind on May 6. He also piloted Diversify to a win in the Grade 2 Suburban on Stars & Stripes Day, July 7. The efforts in the graded stakes were part of a successful meet that garnered Ortiz, Jr. his second title for the Belmont spring/summer and first since 2014, when he tied with Javier Castellano.
Dubb's win total was more than double the next closest owner, with M and M Racing totaling eight wins for second. Dubb has finished atop NYRA's year-end owner standings four straight years and six out of the last eight years, taking home top honors in 2010, 2012, 2014-17.
Thoroughbred action moves upstate to historic Saratoga Race Course on Friday for the summer meet, featuring 69 stakes worth $18.85 million in purses, will run from Friday, July 20, through Labor Day, September 3. After opening weekend, racing will be conducted six days a week, Wednesdays through Mondays.