by Brian Bohl
ELMONT, N.Y. - Trainer Chad Brown registered his fourth consecutive Belmont Park spring/summer individual meet title in runaway fashion with 38 wins, while Jose Lezcano captured his first New York riding title with 44 victories as the 48-day meet concluded on Sunday.
Klaravich Stables posted 12 wins to lead all owners, compiling earnings of more than $1.5 million.
Brown, who has won the New York Racing Association's year-end leading trainer award for the last four years, continued his dominance at Belmont, with his runners finishing with a 38-26-25 ledger with 138 starters, resulting in a 27.54 winning percentage and earnings of more than $5.4 million. His win total doubled the next-closest trainers in Rudy Rodriguez and Todd Pletcher, who both registered 19 wins. The margin was even greater than Brown recorded in the 2018 spring/summer meet, when his 34 wins finished 13 clear of the second-place finisher.
Brown won 14 graded stakes during the meet, including three Grade 1s on Belmont Stakes Day June 8. Among those highlights was when the Brown-trained Bricks and Mortar, Robert Bruce and Raging Bull finished 1-2-3 in the Grade 1 Manhattan, while Rushing Fall captured the Grade 1 Longines Just a Game and Guarana won the Grade 1 Acorn.
The Mechanicsville, New York native has won the last three Eclipse Awards for Outstanding Trainer and has won every Belmont spring/summer meet since 2016.
Lezcano won his first NYRA riding title, totaled a 44-35-31 record in 190 mounts and earnings of more than $3.34 million in a highly competitive meet that saw the top-five riders separated by just five wins. Luis Saez finished second with 43 wins, while Jose Ortiz was third with 40 and Irad Ortiz, Jr. and Joel Rosario tied for fourth with 39.
Lezcano rode 20-1 Henley's Joy to an impressive win in Saturday's Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Derby Invitational to kick off the Turf Trinity series. It marked his first Grade 1 win since Voodoo Song in the 2018 Fourstardave Handicap at Saratoga.
"It's been a very good meet. All the trainers have given me great opportunities and I'm very grateful for them," Lezcano said.
Lezcano, who won his first race in 2004, also piloted Marconi to victory in the Grade 2 Woodford Reserve Brooklyn Invitational on Belmont Stakes Day. Among his other stakes victories during the meet was Newly Minted in the Bouwerie on May 27, Holiday Disguise in the Dancin Renee on June 15 and Marconi again in the Flat Out on May 9 before his Brooklyn triumph a month later. The 34-year-old native of Chiriqui, Panama has already exceeded his 2018 year-end win total of 98 wins with 105 victories this year.
"I was just trying to ride my horses and do my best," Lezcano said. "You have to run for the right people. I thank my agent, Jason Beides, for all his hard work. When you win, you get more opportunities; more horses and better horses and you get more work. In New York, there's so many good riders. Luis, Irad, Jose, Johnny V [Velazquez], and all the young riders, too, it's just real competitive."
Klaravich Stables, led by Seth Klarman, won 12 races with seven runner-up efforts and seven third-place finishers from 46 starters, earning $1,548,310. Klaravich Stables, which was second only to Michael Dubb on the 2018 NYRA year-end owners list, saw Separationofpowers win the Grade 3 Bed o' Roses Invitational on June 7. The Brown-trained Bricks and Mortar, co-owned with William Lawrence, built on his wins in the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup Turf, the Grade 2 Muniz Memorial and the Grade 1 Old Forester Turf Classic at other tracks earlier in the year to win the Manhattan at Belmont Park.
Dubb, atop the NYRA year-end owner standings seven times in the last nine years, had nine winners, tying Three Diamonds Farm for second during the meet.
Living racing will move to historic Saratoga Race Course for the 2019 summer meet featuring 76 stakes across 40 racing days, highlighted by the 150th running of the Grade 1, $1.25 million Runhappy Travers on August 24 and the Grade 1, $1 million Whitney on August 3 as the anchors of two of the biggest racing days in North America.
Thursday's Opening Day card is highlighted by the Grade 3, $150,000 Schuylerville and the Grade 3, $100,000 Quick Call. Friday will feature the Grade 3 Forbidden Apple and Saturday will mark Saratoga's first Grade 1 with the $500,000 Diana for turf fillies and mares on a card that also includes the Grade 3 Sanford.
The summer meet, which features $20.85 million in total stakes purses, will run from Opening Day on Thursday, July 11 through Labor Day, September 2. After opening weekend, racing will be conducted five days a week, Wednesdays through Sundays.