Irad Ortiz, Jr. earns fourth Saratoga riding title; Brown wins fifth training title
by Mary Eddy
Klaravich Stables clinches fifth straight Spa owners title
Jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. earned the Angel Cordero, Jr. Award as the leading rider at Saratoga Race Course for the fourth time, finishing with 55 wins to top Luis Saez and Flavien Prat, who tied for second with 40 wins each. Joel Rosario finished fourth with 39 wins. Ortiz, Jr. has now earned 20 riding titles at NYRA racetracks.
The 30-year-old native of Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico secured the title with a record of 284-55-45-55 and earnings of $7,206,666. He posted a win rate of 19.37 percent and in-the-money percentage of 54.58.
“I feel great. It’s amazing every time you have a chance to win a meet here,” Ortiz, Jr. said. “It’s an unbelievable feeling. It’s a lot of work and dedication. The trainers and owners give me big support, and my agent, Steve Rushing, does a great job.”
Ortiz, Jr. celebrated 15 stakes triumphs during the 40-day meeting that ran from July 15 through September 5, capped by a resounding win with Life Is Good in the Grade 1, $1 million Whitney on August 6. He enjoyed four other Grade 1 victories, guiding top 3-year-old filly Nest to open-lengths scores in the $500,000 Coaching Club American Oaks on July 23 and the $600,000 Alabama on August 20; Goodnight Olive from off the pace to take down the $500,000 Ballerina on August 28; and Forte to a three-length victory in the $300,000 Hopeful on Closing Day.
Other stakes wins for Ortiz, Jr. at the meet were a Grade 2 score in the Flower Bowl [Virginia Joy] and Grade 3 wins in the Troy [Golden Pal], Schuylerville [Just Cindy], Lake George [Dolce Zel] and Saranac [Annapolis]. He earned additional stakes wins in the Curlin [Artorius], the NYSSS Cab Calloway [Dakota Gold], the Bolton Landing [Love Reigns], the Funny Cide [Andiamo a Firenze] and the Albany [Bossmakinbossmoves].
“Nest was very impressive. It was amazing in the Alabama,” Ortiz, Jr. said of his favorite moment this meet. “The Whitney was amazing, too. Life Is Good is an unbelievable horse. I’m glad I’m staying on top of him.”
Rosario, who finished fourth with a ledger of 39-34-15 from 184 mounts, captured the Grade 1 Runhappy Travers aboard Epicenter to secure his 12th graded stakes victory of the meet, setting a record for the most graded stakes wins by a rider in a single meeting at Saratoga.
Brown, winner of four Eclipse Awards for Outstanding Trainer, secured his fifth H. Allen Jerkens Award for top trainer at the Saratoga meet after posting a 197-42-30-34 record with earnings of $6,182,875, good for a win rate of 21.31 percent and on-the-board percentage of 53.81. Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher finished second with 38 wins with Christophe Clement finishing third with 18 wins.
Brown earned his fourth consecutive title at the Spa and fifth overall after coming out on top in 2016, 2018, 2019, 2021 and this year. The 43-year-old conditioner credited his staff with his outfit’s successes at the meet.
“They stayed focused and everybody contributed,” said Brown. “Of course, the horses, I’m so proud of this stable as a whole. They gave it their all, all meet. Very few horses didn’t fire. Whether they won or lost is irrelevant. Very few times did I leave the unsaddling area disappointed with effort. It seems like more of them fired than didn’t.”
Meet highlights for the Mechanicville, N.Y. native were Grade 1 victories with In Italian in the $500,000 Diana; Jack Christopher in the $500,000 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial; and Goodnight Olive in the Ballerina Handicap with Ortiz, Jr. aboard. He also scored Grade 2 wins in the Bowling Green [Rockemperor], Lake Placid [Haughty], Ballston Spa [Technical Analysis] and Flower Bowl [Virginia Joy]; Grade 3 wins in the Lake George [Dolce Zel] and Bernard Baruch Handicap [Emaraaty]; and three other stakes coups in the Curlin [Artorius], Skidmore [Oxymore] and Riskaverse [Gina Romantica].
Brown said his three Grade 1 wins, including saddling the top-four finishers in the Diana, were his favorite moments of the meet.
“The three Grade 1s are at the top,” said Brown. “The Diana with the first four finishers. And also, a wonderful ownership with the Ballerina winner [Goodnight Olive] – that’s so many close friends of mine that pooled their money together and bought a nice filly. That was a great moment for me personally.”
Seth Klarman’s Klaravich Stables continued its dominance at the Spa for the fifth straight year to come out on top as leading owner with 16 victories, two more than second-place Michael Dubb. Repole Stables finished third with 9 wins.
Klaravich Stables teamed up with Brown to celebrate a Grade 2 win with Technical Analysis in the Ballston Spa on August 27, and posted six other stakes placings at the meet. Klaravich Stables tallied a record of 16-12-11 from 77 starters for a 20.78 win percentage and $1,847,391 in total purse earnings.
Live racing resumes on Thursday, September 15 at Aqueduct Racetrack for the 28-day Belmont at the Big A fall meet, which features 41 stakes worth $9.9 million. The Opening Day card will feature Grade 1 steeplechase action with the $150,000 Lonesome Glory Handicap for older horses.
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