Todd Pletcher, who had a string of 15 straight titles ended last year, returned to the top of the Gulfstream Park trainer's standings when the Championship Meet concluded in Hallandale Sunday. Pletcher finished with a seven-win cushion over Mike Maker, 48-41.
“We had a good run, missed it last year, but happy to get it back this year. I'm proud of the whole team. They did a great job,” Pletcher said. “We were able to have a lot of maiden winners so, hopefully, we can continue to develop some of them. We've been fortunate.”
With options limited due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Pletcher is leaving his entire string of horses in South Florida rather than bring the bulk back with him to New York, which is among many tracks across the country to have temporarily suspended racing.
“Right now, like everyone else, we're taking it a day at a time. We have all of our horses either here [at Gulfstream] or Palm Beach Downs, so we're just trying to see what tomorrow brings,” Pletcher said. “We're thankful that Gulfstream has been able to keep racing going. It's critical to the racing economy for a lot of people, so I'm hoping that they can continue to do that.”
Irad Ortiz Jr. held off a late run from Luis Saez to capture his second straight Championship Meet riding title. Ortiz, who last rode Mar. 19, ended with a 115-113 advantage over Saez, who won with two of nine mounts Sunday. Ortiz led Saez by 21 wins when he opted not to finish the meet, but Saez moved into striking range by winning 17 races through Saturday's Florida Derby program, including back-to-back five-win days Mar. 26 and 27. Ortiz edged Saez, 135-134, for last year's title.
Ken and Sarah Ramsey finished as the Championship Meet's leading owner with 16 wins, six ahead of Arindel, Imaginary Stables and Drawing Away Stable, who finished with 10 apiece. It was the seventh meet title for the Ramseys, including six in a row from 2012-13 to 2017-18.