The prestigious summer meets at Saratoga and Del Mar have boiled down to their final week. We’ll set the stage for the finale here, focusing mainly on the highlights from Travers weekend at “The Spa.”
Jose Ortiz’s lead at “The Spa” was cut into by his older brother, Irad, setting things up for an intriguing final stanza at Saratoga. The younger Ortiz won just five times last week, bringing his meet total to 49. He recorded a hat-trick on Wednesday but was shut out on the lucrative Travers day program. The best Jose could do was run second twice in the Personal Ensign (Elate) and Travers itself (Tacitus). Irad won eight races in all last week, including three on Travers day, to climb to 43 overall scores. However, his only stakes tally on the week came with Catch a Bid in Thursday’s Riskaverse.
Stakes wins came in bunches for third-place Javier Castellano (33) last week. He took Friday’s Seeking the Ante (Fierce Lady) and West Point (Offering Plan) before striking in Saturday’s Ballerina (Come Dancing) and Sword Dancer (Annals of Time).
Moving further down the jockey standings, eighth-place John Velazquez showed why he is still one of the game’s most respected riders by winning six times last week, including three during the stakes portion of Saturday’s Saratoga program. Velazquez guided Mind Control to an upset victory in the Allen Jerkens and Significant Form to an upset of her own in the Ballston Spa in consecutive races. Later on, he took the Travers atop a much-the-best Code of Honor.
Flavien Prat is still the prohibitive favorite to win the riding title at Del Mar. He leads by 10 (34-24) over Drayden Van Dyke on the strength of a five-win Wednesday. Prat also took Saturday’s feature, the Pat O’Brien, atop Catalina Cruiser. Van Dyke tallied four victories last week, including Sunday’s Shared Belief with the comebacking Improbable.
Not many would have predicted a third-place finish for Abel Cedillo at Del Mar, but that’s where he sits with 21 wins on the meet. He got his picture taken five times last week, which includes Wednesday’s Harry F. Brubaker Stakes score (Two Thirty Five).
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