by Brian Bohl
Chad Brown posted 22 wins to earn the status as top trainer for the Belmont Park fall meet for the ninth consecutive year, while Jose Ortiz registered 40 victories to lead all riders for the 27-day meet that commenced September 18 and concluded on Sunday, November 1.
Klaravich Stables campaigned 13 winners, six more than the second-closest competitor in Repole Stables, to pace all owners.
Brown continued his dominance at the Belmont fall meet, compiling a 22-14-18 record with 96 starters and earnings of more than $1.5 million. The four-time Eclipse Award-winner for Outstanding Trainer has won at least a share of the Belmont fall meet every year since 2012. The soon-to-be 42-year-old extended his streak by saddling six more winners than Christophe Clement in second place and Todd Pletcher in third with 15 wins.
NYRA’s year-ending leading trainer five years running, Brown tallied five graded stakes wins, sending out Devamani [Knickerbocker], Tamahere [Sands Point] and Complexity [Kelso Handicap] to Grade 2 triumphs, while Viadera [Noble Damsel] and Tapit Today [Athenia] earned Grade 3 honors. Brown ended the meet with another stakes win, as Ingrassia captured Sunday’s Chelsey Flower for juvenile fillies.
Ortiz earned his first career Belmont fall meet title, posting a 40-29-28 record in 173 mounts for earnings of more than $2.3 million. After finishing one win shy of brother Irad Ortiz, Jr. for top honors at the Saratoga summer meet, the older Ortiz bested runner-up jockey Jose Lezcano  wins by a dozen. Ortiz, NYRA’s 2016 year-end leading rider, partnered with Brown to win the Kelso and Athenia and also piloted Plum Ali to victory in the Grade 2 Miss Grillo and Wet Your Whistle in the Grade 3 Belmont Turf Sprint Invitational.
“I’m just happy I can go out there and do what I love the most and be successful. I work very hard for it and I’m happy to be getting good opportunities,” Ortiz said. “It means a lot. Belmont is a great place to race and I think it’s the best jockey colony in the United States right now. It’s very tough. We have Hall of Famers and future Hall of Famers and it’s hard to compete against them. They all can ride, they’re all talented and they all want to win, so to be in the position I’m in, I feel blessed I can go out there and compete at the highest level for those guys.
“I appreciate the opportunities the owners and trainers gave to me and my agent [Jimmy Riccio, Jr.] is doing a great job,” he added. “It’s hard now because we don’t work horses as much. It’s been hard with the pandemic, but thankfully the owners and trainers have supported me.”