Brown tallies sixth consecutive Belmont spring/summer meet training title
by Brian Bohl
Jose Ortiz paces all jockeys; Klaravich Stables earns top owner status
Chad Brown registered 32 victories to finish as the leading trainer at the Belmont spring/summer meet for the sixth consecutive year, while Jose Ortiz won the riding the title with 59 victories during the 48-day meet that commenced on April 22 and concluded on Sunday at Belmont Park. Klaravich Stables led all owners with 11 wins.
Brown continued his dominance of this meet, extending his run as the top conditioner in every year since 2016. The four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer was 32-29-30 in 155 starts with earnings of $3.68 million. His win total was five more than second-place finisher Christophe Clement. Rob Atras was third with 19 wins, while Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher and Mike Maker each finished with 18 victories.
Among Brown’s accomplishments was a pair of Grade 1 wins on the Belmont Stakes Day undercard June 5, as Domestic Spending captured the $750,000 Resorts World Casino Manhattan for 4-year-olds and up going 1 1/4 miles on the turf and Search Results won the $500,000 Acorn for sophomore fillies going a one-turn mile. Klaravich Stables owns both of those winners.
“It takes a lot of good horses, loyal and patient owners and, of course, the team,” Brown said. “This meet wasn’t easy. We had a bad virus run through the barn and that really hampered us from winning more races, but we were able to overcome it. We really just focused on getting through the meet and getting the horses healthy. Exiting the meet now, we were able to still win a lot of meaningful races, and it looks like the horses are nice and healthy heading up to Saratoga, so I’m really proud of the job they did of just persevering through a turbulent couple of months.”
NYRA’s year-ending leading trainer six years running saw his starters finish in the money 58.71 percent of the time during the spring/summer meet. The success continued the 42-year-old’s excellence at Belmont, as Brown has also earned a share of every Belmont fall meet title since 2012.
Ortiz, who entered Closing Day in a tie with his brother, Irad Ortiz, Jr. [who was serving a three-day suspension to conclude the meet] won twice on Sunday to earn his first Belmont spring/summer riding crown since 2017. He piloted Spectatorless to victory in Sunday’s opener and guided Bella Sofia to a win in Race 7.
Like Brown, Ortiz also was successful during June’s Belmont Stakes Racing Festival, winning both the Grade 1, $500,000 Ogden Phipps aboard Letruska and with Drain the Clock in the Grade 1, $400,000 Woody Stephens presented by Nassau County Industrial Development Agency on Belmont Stakes Day June 5. The previous day, Ortiz won aboard Firenze Fire in the Grade 2, $300,000 True North.
For the meet, Ortiz compiled a 59-47-46 record in 279 mounts, finishing with a 21.22 winning percentage while tallying earnings of $4.93 million. Following Irad Ortiz, Jr. [57 wins] was Manny Franco, who ended the meet with 52 wins. Joel Rosario  was the only other rider to crack 40.
Among Ortiz’s other highlights were victories with First Captain [Grade 3, $250,000 Dwyer]; Robin Sparkles [$125,000 Mount Vernon]; River Dog [$125,000 Mike Lee] and Sadie Lady [$100,000 Dancin Renee].
“It’s always great to win a meet,” Ortiz said. “We all know Irad was out for some time; I wanted to win it, but I can only control what I can control. But it’s always good to have success here to get that momentum for Saratoga. If you are winning or running second or third with good horses here, they come back in races up there and you’re going to ride them. Hopefully, you get a good head start on the meet.”
Klaravich Stables won its third consecutive Belmont spring/summer meet, posting a record of 11-10-12 with 57 starters while also leading all owners with earnings of $1.39 million. Headed by Seth Klarman, Klaravich Stables teamed with Brown for a pair of Grade 1 wins with both Domestic Spending and Search Results, marking the ownership group’s two stakes victories for the meet.
Michael Dubb finished second with nine wins, while West Point Thoroughbreds was third with seven victories.
Thoroughbred action moves to historic Saratoga Race Course for the 40-day summer meet from Thursday, July 15 through Labor Day, September 6. Highlighted by the Grade 1, $1.25 million Runhappy Travers on August 28 and the Grade 1, $1 million Whitney on August 7, the 2021 summer meet at Saratoga Race Course will feature 76 stakes worth $21.5 million in total purses.