It’s time to review the week that was in horse racing, focusing on the happenings at Saratoga and Del Mar.
The battle for first at the Saratoga meeting has been closely contested since the start, but Jose Ortiz created some distance between himself and his fellow riders at “The Spa” last week by winning nine races. That boosted his total for the meet to 44. The highlight of his week was his Grade I Alabama score atop Dunbar Road, part of a Saturday hat-trick. Ortiz would return the next day with another winning stakes ride aboard Blue Prize in the Summer Colony.
Irad Ortiz Jr., second with 35 victories for the meet, won five during the most recent stanza of racing. However, he was shut out in the stakes department.
Javier Castellano, who has spotted the Ortiz brothers over 50 mounts each at Saratoga, is in third with 29 overall triumphs. He visited the winner’s circle seven times last week, including in the Lake Placid with Varenka, who dead-heated with Regal Glory for first.
Luis Saez, fourth with 26 wins, and Joel Rosario, fifth with 23, each won five at Saratoga last week. Saez shared the win in the Lake Placid aboard Regal Glory, while Rosario notched a solo stakes score in Saturday’s Smart N Fancy with Oleksandra.
Manny Franco, a surprising ninth with just 12 wins at the meet, finally seems to be building some momentum. He struck four times last week, taking the Skidmore Stakes (Another Miracle) in the process.
It’s been a very strong Del Mar meet for Flavien Prat, so it was only fitting that he won the Pacific Classic atop longshot Higher Power. He won only one other time last week, but he currently sits at 27 victories this summer, seven ahead of nearest rival Drayden Van Dyke. The latter notched three first-place finishes last week.
Rafael Bejarano is quietly putting together one of his best meets in a while as he resides in third with 19 scores. He was aboard four winners last week, including CTT and TOC Stakes victress Siberian Iris.
Joe Talamo worked his way into a tie for fourth with Abel Cedillo at the Del Mar meet with a five-win week. He took both the Torrey Pines Stakes (Fighting Mad) and Green Flash Handicap (Mr Vargas) on Saturday and placed in the Del Mar Handicap (Oscar Dominguez), Del Mar Oaks (Lady Prancelot) and Pacific Classic (Draft Pick).
Follow me on Twitter: @itsgood2beking