After sharing the spring/summer Belmont meet title with Javier Castellano, Irad Ortiz, Jr. made sure he was alone atop the fall leaderboard by winning seven races on closing weekend, giving him 46 victories for the meet and three more than Castellano.
Joining Ortiz, Jr. as meet leaders were trainer Chad Brown, who took his third consecutive fall meet title with 30 wins, and Michael Dubb, whose 13 wins made him top owner for the third straight time on the NYRA circuit.
Joel Rosario finished third with 38 wins, and Jose Ortiz, Irad’s younger brother, finished fourth with 32.
Brown entered closing weekend with a commanding lead over runner-up David Jacobson, who also finished second in the owner standings, and coasted to the finish line to best his total from last year’s fall meet by four wins.
The trainer saddled three graded stakes winners at the meet, topped by Stephanie’s Kitten’s triumph in the Grade 1 Flower Bowl. Brown also took the Grade 2 Sands Point with Ball Dancing, and the Grade 3 Miss Grillo with Lady Eli.
Stephanie’s Kitten and Lady Eli will both represent the trainer at the Breeders’ Cup World Championships on October 31 and November 1 at Santa Anita Park.
Jacobson tallied 23 wins at the stand, while Christophe Clement caught fire on closing weekend to finish third with 18.
Dame Dorothy undefeated
Dame Dorothy remained undefeated with her fourth straight victory on Sunday, taking the lead at the top of the stretch and holding on for a half-length win in the Grade 3, $200,000 Turnback the Alarm Handicap for fillies and mares, the closing day feature at Belmont Park.
Owned by celebrity chef Bobby Flay, the 3-year-old Bernardini filly waited patiently under jockey Javier Castellano as long shot Flores Island took the field through an opening half.
Moved up on the turn, Dame Dorothy powered past her stablemate, Teen Pauline, at the quarter-pole and had enough left to hold off the late rallies from Catch My Drift and Toasting.
“On the backside, I had to steady a little bit, and tried to angle her outside and keep her in the clear,” said Castellano.
Purchased for $390,000 at the Keeneland September yearling sales, Dame Dorothy was a half-length winner of her first race last November, and returned to win a first-level optional claimer in January at Gulfstream Park. Following a 6 ½-month layoff, she took the Malvern Rose on August 10 at Presque Isle Downs.
With the win, Dame Dorothy more than doubled her career earnings to $231,900 for Flay.
“Her performance was terrific,” said Flay. “You never know - it was her first time against older horses. We’re looking forward to running her against straight 3-year-olds.
Thoroughbred racing action moves to Aqueduct Racetrack on Wednesday, October 29, where opening weekend will feature the simulcast of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships from Santa Anita Park, as well as a trio of graded stakes at the Big A.
On opening day, guests will be greeted by more than $14 million in capital improvements to the facility designed to enhance the guest experience.
Admission to the Big A is free, with gates opening at 11 a.m. Aqueduct’s first race post time on Friday and Saturday is 1 p.m.