SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Ken and Sarah Ramsey set a record for victories by an owner at Saratoga Race Course, with trainer Todd Pletcher taking his fourth consecutive training title and Javier Castellano earning his first riding title at the conclusion of a celebratory 150th anniversary meet on Monday, September 2.
Among the racing highlights of the 40-day meet were Cross Traffic's sparkling victory in the Grade 1, $750,000 Whitney Invitational Handicap, Princess of Sylmar's Grade 1 triumphs in the TVG Coaching Club American Oaks and Alabama, reigning Horse of the Year Wise Dan's win in the Grade 2 Fourstardave Handicap, Alpha's return to the Spa winner's circle in the Grade 1, $750,000 Woodward, and Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas's two Grade 1 victories, in the $1 million Travers with Will Take Charge on August 24 and in the Hopeful with Strong Mandate on September 2, his 78th birthday.
Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez became the all-time leading rider at Saratoga on July 27 when he broke fellow Hall of Famer Jerry Bailey's mark of 693 victories. Velazquez, Bailey and Hall of Famer Angel Cordero, Jr., were honored in a special ceremony on August 23 as the track's three all-time leading riders, with a special commemorative plaque honoring their achievements displayed outside the jockeys' room.
As well, recently retired rider Ramon Dominguez was honored in the winner's circle on August 25, when he was presented with the reinstituted Mike Venezia Award by NYRA and the trophy for his third straight Eclipse Award, which he was unable to accept in January. A $15,000 donation on behalf of Dominguez was made to the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund, with proceeds from closing-day admissions also going to the PDJF.
The tradition of the track's community involvement continued with the annual Fabulous Fillies Day on August 14, when more than $100,000 was raised to benefit the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.
The Ramseys, who were recognized for their record-breaking meet by NYRA CEO & President Chris Kay in a winner's circle ceremony on August 31, had 22 winners, capped by Big Blue Kitten's triumph in the Sword Dancer Invitational on August 17, one of three Grade 1 wins on the day around the country for the owners. It was the third time the Ramseys had been the leading owners at the Spa, having taken the title in 2008 and 2009. The previous record for victories by an owner was 18, set by Zayat Stable in 2007.
Pletcher, a winner of 36 races, added his 10th career H. Allen Jerkens training title, also having been Saratoga's leading trainer in 1998, 2002-06, and 2010-12. With the 10th title, Pletcher surpasses Hall of Famer Bill Mott for the most meet titles by a trainer. Meet highlights for Pletcher included victories with Cross Traffic in the Grade 1 Whitney Invitational Handicap and Princess of Sylmar in both the Grade 1 Alabama and Grade 1 TVG Coaching Club American Oaks.
Chad Brown was the second-leading trainer with 24 wins, with Kiaran McLaughlin and David Jacobson tying for third with 16 wins each.
During the 40-day meet, Castellano registered 66 wins, including five on closing day, to take his first Angel Cordero, Jr. riding title. Highlighting the meet for Castellano, who had finished second for the past three years, were Grade 1 victories aboard Princess of Sylmar in the TVG Coaching Club American Oaks and the Alabama. Finishing second was Hall of Famer John Velazquez (46), with Joel Rosario placing third (41).
Thoroughbred racing moves downstate to Belmont Park for the 37-day fall meet beginning Saturday, September 7, and running through Sunday, October 27. Live racing is generally conducted Wednesday through Sunday, with a first race post time of 1:05 p.m. during September and 12:50 p.m. in October. For information on the Belmont Park fall meet, please visit nyra.com or call (516) 488-6000.