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Jul 31, 2015

AMERICAN TURF CLUB LEAD

By: JOE GIRARDI


               The Spring/Summer meeting at Belmont came to an end on Sunday July 19th. The majority of the backstretch is headed up to Saratoga but let us take a look at some of the results in the jockey and trainer standings.

               The leading jockey standings came down to the last day when jockey Javier Castellano scored two victories to one win by Irad Ortiz Jr to hold on to win the leading jockey by two wins, 56-54. Jose Ortiz was another seven wins back in third with 47 wins for the meeting. Joel Rosario and John Velazquez rounded out the top five with 38 and 37 wins respectively. Eric Cancel, the up and coming apprentice had a very good meeting with 35 wins and over $1.7 million dollars in earnings. Some veterans that had solid meetings despite some limited mounts were Joe Bravo and Edgar Prado. Bravo was 6 for 17 with over $600,000 in earnings. Hall of Famer, Edgar Prado was 3 for 12 with $249,000 in earnings. Some jockeys that had a rough meeting were Taylor Rice (2 for 88), Julien Leparoux (1 for 28) and Samuel Jimenez (0 for 33). It looks like it should be a very good race for the leading jockey up at Saratoga with Javier Castellano and Irad Ortiz Jr as the two favorites. They finished 1-2 at the Spa last year.

               The leading trainer standings didn’t come down to the last day and was almost over from the start as Todd Pletcher never looked back scoring by 10 wins, 43-33 over Chad Brown. Bill Mott was 8 wins behind Brown with 25. Christophe Clement and Kiaran McLaughlin rounded out the top 5 with 24 and 17 wins respectively. However, despite leading the standings in wins, Pletcher had to settle for second to Chad Brown when it came to money earned. Chad Brown had $4,261,677 to Pletcher’s $3,595,822. Jason Servis finished the meeting in solid fashion with 11 wins from 50 tries, a 22% win rate with 48% in the money. Gary Gullo who has been having a solid year himself had 9 wins from 41 starts with a 22% win rate. Look for him to continue his winning ways heading into Saratoga. Steve Klesaris, who has always been a solid conditioner had 8 wins from 50 starts for a win % of 16 but he was heating up at the end of the meeting and he could carry it over into the Spa. Some trainers that didn’t do that well the Belmont meeting was Gary Contessa who had 8 wins from 129 starters for a win rate of 6%. His in the money percentage was not very good either at 23%. Steve Asmussen, always a top trainer but his barn has been struggling in New York and he could only manage 3 wins from 54 starters but his in the money percentage went up to 44% so maybe he can turn it around at the Spa. Joe Orseno’s barn also had a tough go of it with two wins from 30 starts for a 7% win rate.

               As they move up to Saratoga the barns that struggled will have a rough go of it up at Saratoga because the quality of racing will be that much tougher. There will be some changes this year at Saratoga when it comes to the customers. The Carousel restaurant is a newly renovated Sports bar with approximately 60 tables that are now reservation only. Sounds like that should be an interesting attraction but until I see it I will not comment. The backyard tables will also offer some by reservation, 100 tables can be reserved in the picnic area. Since I have been going to Saratoga there has always been the tradition of going in and getting your picnic table on a first come first serve basis, there will still be 850 tables that will be offered this way but I can see how management is trying to change that. Trying to take away from what Saratoga is about. Those that are running NYRA just don’t understand about the traditions and how things have always been. They need to stop messing with how things are done up there or they will ruin it.

The newly revitalized lower Carousel will also be the home to the third new attraction for the 2015 season – the Tom Durkin Replay Center, which honors one of the most renowned announcers in the history of the racing industry. Guests will have the opportunity to view and hear 24 classic calls by former announcer Tom Durkin, who retired in 2014 at the conclusion of the Saratoga meet after serving as the indelible voice of the New York Racing Association for 24 years. The Tom Durkin Replay Center will be open to the public daily throughout the 2015 meet.

I will be there opening weekend to check out some of the new attractions, hoping they didn’t do anything further to ruin what is the greatest place on earth. Good luck to all playing the Saratoga meeting!



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