Irad Ortiz, Chad Brown take jockey, training titles at Saratoga

Irad Ortiz, Chad Brown take jockey, training titles at Saratoga

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The numbers from the Summer 2022 Saratoga race meeting are in, and they’re all good — for the racetrack, the leading trainer and the leading rider.

All sources betting handle, the oats that make the racetrack industry run, were up 7.7 percent to over $878 million from $815 million last year for the same 40 racing days.

The average daily handle of $21.9 million is the highest in the storied history of the Spa.

On-track handle, a category that could be re-named because it includes New York state residents betting off-track through their NYRA Bets accounts, totaled $152 million. That was 10 percent better than 2021.

1.075 million fans accounted for the paid attendance. That number marks the seventh consecutive season when attendance topped the million mark — exclusive of 2020 when the gates were closed due to COVID-19. The daily paid attendance figure this year, despite a punishing early-meet heat wave, was 26,890.

“This summer’s record handle, increasing strong attendance and the highest viewership on Fox Sports demonstrates the enduring and expanding appeal of Saratoga Race Course,” said Dave O’Rourke, NYRA’s President and CEO.

The racing numbers were 417 races run, 218 on the main track and 199 on the turf. Average field size was 7.8. Unsuitable weather and footing conditions forced 16 races off the turf and onto the main track.

The awards for outstanding achievement were made to jockey Irad Ortiz Jr., trainer Chad Brown and Seth Klarman’s Klaravich Stables.

Ortiz stepped into the winner’s circle to accept the award from his boyhood idol, Hall of Fame jockey Angel Cordero Jr. His win as leading rider was his fourth at the Spa.

His win total for 2022 Saratoga was 55 races, 15 more than his closest pursuers, Flavien Prat and Luis Saez.

The road to Ortiz’s Saratoga championship began on opening day when he won the Grade II Schuylerville Stakes aboard Just Cindy.

A week later, he won the first of five Grade I races with Nest in the Coaching Club American Oaks, Life is Good in the Whitney, Nest again in the Alabama, Goodnight Olive in the Ballerina Handicap and Forte in the closing day’s Hopeful.

Ortiz has ridden more than 3,700 winners with purse earnings of $252 million.

When asked about winning the riding title, Ortiz said, “It’s amazing every time you have a chance to win a meet here. It’s a lot of work and dedication.”

Brown won the H. Allen Jerkens trophy as leading trainer for the fourth consecutive time and fifth overall with a total 42, six more than Todd Pletcher.

Brown did not allow legal difficulties incurred in mid-August to interfere with his fifth Spa training title. The Mechanicville native and Saratoga Springs resident opened his stakes campaign with a Grade I win in the Diana Stakes with In Italian. As icing on the cake, Brown also saddle the next three finishers in the Diana.

He followed that race with Grade I victories in the H. Allen Jerkens Memorial sprint with Jack Christopher and the Ballerina with Good Night Olive with Ortiz aboard.

“The three Grade I’s are on the top — and the Diana with the first four finishers,” Brown said. “That was a great moment for me personally,” he said.

Seth Klarman’s Klaravich Stables won the top owners award for the fifth straight time. His easy to spot red and white racing silks were seen in the winners’ circle 16 times. He collected more than $1.8 million in purse earnings.

New York resumes racing downstate on Thursday, Sept. 15, with the Belmont at Aqueduct meeting.

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