Brown, Ortiz, Jr., finish atop leaderboard for third consecutive time in earning Belmont fall meet titles
by Brian Bohl
Klaravich Stables captures owner crown
Trainer Chad Brown (38 wins) and jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. (44 victories) both won their third consecutive meet titles as the respective leaders for the 35-day Belmont Park Fall Championship Meet that concluded Sunday.
Klaravich Stables' Homeland Security won the $125,000 Zagora in Race 8, breaking a tie with Michael Dubb to earn its 15th win to finish as the meet's leading owner.
Fresh off his record-setting effort in earning his second H. Allen Jerkens award as the Saratoga summer meet's top trainer, Brown, who also won the Belmont spring/summer meet crown, enjoyed another successful fall campaign in which he had double the amount of winners than the next-closest competitor in Gary Contessa, who had 19 wins.
Brown, the New York Racing's Association's leading trainer for the last three years from 2015-17, has won at least a share of the last seven Belmont fall meets dating back to 2012, the year he tied David Jacobson with 21 wins. His win total for the 2018 meet marked Brown's second-highest for a Belmont fall meet, trailing only the 41 wins he tallied in 2017.
"It's great for our team. Everyone's worked really hard and we had a lot of talented horses run well and everyone executed their jobs extremely well," Brown said. "We're proud of our team and hopefully we take this momentum into Aqueduct and the Breeders' Cup, too, and finish up the year strong."
Brown won two of the three stakes on Sunday's nine-race card, including Homeland Security, ridden by Ortiz, Jr., and Seek and Destroy, who captured the $100,000 Chelsey Flower in Race 4. His starters finished in the money more than 60 percent of the time with earnings of more than $3.8 million.
Three of Brown's seven graded stakes wins for the meet came with Ortiz, Jr. in the irons. Those impressive victories included Fourstar Crook in the Grade 1 Flower Bowl, Newspaperofrecord in the Grade 2 Miss Grillo and Rymska in the Grade 3 Athenia. Brown also notched wins with Complexity in the Grade 1 Champagne, Wow Cat in the Grade 1 Beldame, Patternrecognition in the Grade 2 Kelso Handicap and Uni in the Grade 3 Noble Damsel.
"He had another strong meet and continues to get better," Brown said of Ortiz, Jr. "He's smart and talented and I expect him to continue to improve. I'm proud of the meet he had and he's been great, especially for us."
Ortiz, Jr. also parlayed a successful Saratoga campaign, in which he won his second Angel Cordero, Jr. award as the top rider, into his fourth consecutive Belmont fall meet crown dating to his first in 2014. The 26-year-old native of Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico registered 44 wins in 215 starts with earnings in excess of $3.4 million. He bested Manny Franco, who surged to a strong finish for the second-most wins with 38.
"It's an amazing feeling," Ortiz, Jr. said. "I always work hard and love to compete and be able to come out on top in the standings so thank God. I hope to stay healthy and the horses sound so I can continue to do what I love."
Klaravich Stables notched its second consecutive leading owner title, building on its success in the Saratoga summer meet. Headed by Seth Klarman, the stable teamed with Brown and Ortiz, Jr. to win the Miss Grillo with Newspaperofrecord in a meet highlight for the stable.
Thoroughbred action moves to Aqueduct Racetrack starting Friday for a weekend that features four graded stakes, including the rescheduled Grade 3, $200,000 Bold Ruler Handicap and the Grade 3, $150,000 Tempted on a 10-race Opening Day card that starts at 12:15 p.m.
Opening weekend will coincide with the Breeders' Cup, set for November 2-3, allowing horseplayers to follow the exciting action from Churchill Downs. Fans can watch and wager at Aqueduct.
The stakes action continues on Breeders' Cup weekend with Aqueduct hosting the Grade 3, $150,000 Turnback the Alarm Handicap on November 3. The Grade 3, $200,000 Nashua for 2-year-olds will follow on Sunday, November 4, along with the rescheduled $100,000 English Channel for 3-year-olds and the $100,000 Awad for sophomores.