ORTIZ, BROWN LEAD AT HALF

AUG 5, 2019—Depending on your point of view, the cream is rising or already has risen.

Most observers thought that by the time the 2019 Saratoga meet concluded, jockey Jose Ortiz and trainer Chad Brown would lead their respective categories. At the halfway mark, that’s where you’ll find them; on top.

Ortiz, who missed a Saturday when he flew to Delaware Park and won all four stakes on that program, has ridden 27 Spa winners, five more than older brother Irad Ortiz Jr.

The top Five is rounded out by Javier Castellano and Luis Saez, tied for third with 17 winners, and Jose Lezcano fifth at 16.

On the trainer side, Brown simply has too many bullets for the rest of the competition, and his winners have come at most every level, although, as everyone knows, he’s strictly a vegetarian and he loves those greens.

Brown’s 17 winners are more than double that of place dead-heaters; Bill Mott and Todd Pletcher, each saddling eight winners.

Completing the trainer’s Top Five are Linda Rice with 7, and four trainers tied for fifth with 6, including James Bond, Jeremiah Englehart, Danny Gargan and Jason Servis.

With Whitney Day’s spate of winning favorites, the public’s choices shot .339 in the first half, a point or two above the national average.

Although no one knows what to expect in regard to future betting menus, the traditional $2 Pick Six is a thing of the past.

Sunday’s mandatory payout was a worthy $ 63K+ —for five winners out of six. The Pick 4 consolation was worth $818.

Starting Wednesday, NYRA will institute the 20-Cent Empire Six Jackpot wager, the whole pool paid out when there is a single ticket-holder.

On a daily basis, 75% of the handle will be returned to those picking the most winners, with 25% going into the following day’s jackpot pool. The initial parimutuel takeout is 20%.

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