Pletcher, Ortiz take Spa meet titles; Dubb top owner

December 10, 2019

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Todd Pletcher won his sixth straight training title at Saratoga Race Course and 12th overall, while jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. won his first ever title at the Spa and Michael Dubb repeated as leading owner.

In atypical fashion, Pletcher came from off the pace to take the H. Allen Jerkens title. He trailed Chad Brown for much of the meet before taking the lead with three winners on Saturday and pulling away to edge Brown, 34-31.

Pletcher took four Grade 1 races during the stand, including the CCA Oaks (Curalina), Alfred G. Vanderbilt (Rock Fall), Woodward (Liam's Map) and Spinaway (Rachel's Valentina). He also added wins in the Grade 2 Bowling Green (Red Rifle), Grade 2 With Anticipation (Azar) and Grade 3 Sanford (Uncle Vinny).

"It feels good for the whole team," said Pletcher. "It was extremely stiff competition this year. Chad Brown and his team had a phenomenal meet. We're blessed."

Brown, a native of Mechanicville, N.Y., ended the meet 15 wins clear of Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott in third. Christophe Clement and Rudy Rodriguez finished in a tie for fourth to round out the top five.

Leading rider on the NYRA circuit in 2014, Ortiz dusted an elite jockey colony at the Spa to take the Angel Cordero, Jr. riding crown. The 23-year-old got off to a quick start, caught fire in the middle of the 40-day meet, and cruised to the finish with 57 victories, four more than Javier Castellano.

Ortiz won major stakes races in the Grade 1 Longines Test and Grade 2 Prioress with Cavorting, the Grade 2 Lake George with Mrs McDougal, and Grade 3 Hall of Fame with Takeover Target.

"It's a dream come true to win a title in Saratoga," said Ortiz, who was nipped, 56-55, by Castellano for top honors at the Belmont spring meet. "I'm so happy and so thankful to everyone who supports me. All the owners and trainers, everyone is involved in this title. We came running last [year] and just missed. We just kept working hard and this year was the year."

Though he failed to capture his third straight jockey title at the Spa, Castellano had a historic meet, becoming the first rider to sweep the Grade 1 Travers, Grade 1 Whitney, Grade 1 Woodward and Grade 1 Alabama. His upset victory aboard Keen Ice over Triple Crown champion American Pharoah in the Travers gave Castellano a record five wins in the Mid-Summer Derby.

"I think I had the best meet ever in my career," said Castellano. "I didn't win the title but I won all the big races. It was amazing."

In addition to the Woodward, Castellano teamed up with Pletcher to take the Vanderbilt, and put an exclamation point on a fantastic meet with a win aboard California shipper Ralis in the Grade 1 Hopeful and Ironicus, who set a track record in the Grade 2 Bernard Baruch, on closing day.

Dubb and his various partnerships won 12 races at the stand, two more than Klaravich Stables in second. Patricia Generazio finished third with eight wins.

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