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Homeracing

Saratoga Preview

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TwinSpires Staff

July 17th, 2018

by DICK POWELL

Chad or Todd? Irad or Jose?

These are the questions facing us as the 2018 Saratoga meet begins on Friday from the historic race course in Saratoga Springs.

The past three years have seen a neck-and-neck battle for the H. Allen Jerkens Training Title between Todd Pletcher and Chad Brown. Pletcher, the former assistant to Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, was the leading trainer at Saratoga 13 times but his six-year winning streak was interrupted two years ago when Chad Brown set a new record of 40 training wins.

In the past three years, the balance of power has evened out and both trainers show up here with a lot of ammunition.

2015

 

Todd Pletcher:

 

34

 

 

Chad Brown:

 

31

 

 

 

 

 

Brown, born in nearby Mechanicville, New York, has dominated the turf racing here and with more turf races being held than ever before, Pletcher’s advantage has been mitigated.

2015

 

Todd Pletcher:

 

22 wins on dirt

 

12 wins on turf

 

 

Chad Brown:

 

9 wins on dirt

 

22 wins on turf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brown broke through in 2016 with a record meet and the numbers show how he has had more dirt winners than ever before.

2016

 

Chad Brown:

 

40 total wins

 

14 wins on dirt

 

26 wins on turf

 

 

Todd Pletcher:

 

31 total wins

 

23 wins on dirt

 

8 wins on turf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last year, Pletcher was back with a vengeance and won the title back from Brown while tying his record of 40 training wins.

2017

 

Todd Pletcher:

 

40 total wins

 

28 wins on dirt

 

12 wins on turf

 

 

Chad Brown:

 

39 total wins

 

15 wins on dirt

 

24 wins on turf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, Brown’s dirt wins have increased from 9-to-14-to-15 while Pletcher’s turf wins have stayed steady with 12-to-8-to-12. The weather up here has been sensational so it enabled more turf races to be run, which is in Brown’s favor. If we have similar sunny weather, the trainer’s title should come down to the final weekend. If we have a wet season with many races off the turf, Pletcher would have a major advantage.

Beneath the big guys of the training ranks, Rudy Rodriguez won 39 races the past three years. Bill Mott and Kiaran McLaughlin won 38, Linda Rice won 33 and Christophe Clement won 26. Clement bears watching since he only had four winners last year and should bounce back with a good meet. Rice is coming off a strong Belmont meet and might have used up conditions there.

In the Angel Cordero Jockey’s race, Irad Ortiz Jr. won the title in 2015 with 57 wins.

2015

 

Irad Ortiz Jr.

 

57 total wins

 

23 wins on dirt

 

34 wins on turf

 

 

Javier Castellano

 

54 total wins

 

30 wins on dirt

 

24 wins on turf

 

 

Johnny Velazquez

 

45 total wins

 

29 wins on dirt

 

16 wins on turf

 

 

Jose Ortiz

 

38 total wins

 

24 wins on dirt

 

14 wins on turf

 

 

Luis Saez

 

35 total wins

 

16 wins on dirt

 

19 wins on turf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jose Ortiz pulled away from his brother in 2016 and staked his claim as the one to beat at Saratoga no matter the surface.

2016

 

Jose Ortiz

 

65 total wins

 

31 wins on dirt

 

34 wins on turf

 

 

Irad Ortiz Jr.

 

57 total wins

 

32 wins on dirt

 

25 wins on turf

 

 

Javier Castellano

 

51 total wins

 

27 wins on dirt

 

24 wins on turf

 

 

Johnny Velazquez

 

44 total wins

 

24 wins on dirt

 

20 wins on turf

 

 

Luis Saez

 

28 total wins

 

19 wins on dirt

 

9 wins on turf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jose reinforced his leading rider status last year, Johnny Velazquez continued to ride great and Javier Castellano saw his business suffer from the success of the Ortiz brothers.

2017

 

Jose Ortiz

 

58 total wins

 

28 wins on dirt

 

30 wins on turf

 

 

Irad Ortiz Jr.

 

53 total wins

 

28 wins on dirt

 

25 wins on turf

 

 

Johnny Velazquez

 

46 total wins

 

28 wins on dirt

 

18 wins on turf

 

 

Javier Castellano

 

29 total wins

 

16 wins on dirt

 

13 wins on turf

 

 

Luis Saez

 

28 total wins

 

19 wins on dirt

 

9 wins on turf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Irad has seen his turf wins go from 34-to-25-to-25 last year while Jose has gone from 14-to-34-to-30. Velazquez has been consistent with more wins coming on dirt than turf and Castellano has seen his business decline. With a new agent, maybe Castellano gets it going again but the Ortiz brothers look tough. Manny Franco, under the guidance of none other than Angel Cordero Jr. is sneaking into the picture and should represent strong pari-mutuel value along with Luis Saez.

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