Saratoga Diary: Week Two Wrap-Up
by DICK POWELL
Week two had just about everything except a turf course listed as Firm. The main track was all four designations -- Fast, Good, Sloppy and Muddy. The Mellon turf course was Good and Yielding while the Inner turf course was Good, Yielding and Soft. Field size for the week was 7.52; not bad considering the crazy weather we had. The average win price was $11.30.
The big winner of week two was Luis Saez who rode 11 winners. Coupled with his two winners in the first four days, he now leads the riding standings with 13, and he took Sunday off to ride Bravazo to a second-place finish in the Haskell Invitational (G1) at Monmouth Park. Irad Ortiz Jr. picked up the pace with eight winners and he now has 12 for the meet. Ricardo Santana Jr. had seven wins and now has 10 for the meet. Six came for Steve Asmussen and one came for Ken McPeek. Johnny Velazquez seems to grind out one a day and he had six for the week and has 10 for the meet. At this point of his career, you can count on Johnny to be in the 40s for the meet and he is right on target.
Joel Rosario continues to ride well and he had five winners for the week -- eight for the meet. But the big story was last year's leading rider, Jose Ortiz, having only one winner for the week and four winners for the meet. He won 58 races here last year and, yes, he did take Sunday off to win aboard Good Magic in the $1 million Haskell, but a lot of people would have lost an over/under bet on how many winners Ortiz would have after 10 days of racing here.
On the trainer side, Chad Brown had three winners for the week and now has 10 for the meet after his hot start. Steve Asmussen had six winners -- all ridden by Santana -- and now has eight for the meet. And that is after he was disqualified in the last race on Thursday. Bill Mott won two races on his birthday, July 29, and a total of six for the week. He is now in third place with seven for the meet since Todd Pletcher only had two winners for the week and one of them had to be placed first by the stewards.
Below the radar is Robertino Diodoro, who had three wins in week two and has four for the meet. Three were ridden by David Cohen. Joe Sharp had three winners in week two and has four for the meet. Luis Saez rode all three this week.
None of Asmussen's six wins in week two came on the turf while Mott won four times on it out of his six wins. His winners came on Soft, Yielding and Good courses, so there is no condition that he excels on other than the give in the ground probably helped his runners get up in time.
If things even out, Jose Ortiz will be one to watch this week and I expect Mike Maker to get untracked. Speed-favoring, wet main tracks definitely help Asmussen since his horses break so well and Santana. is go good with that running style.