Velazquez, Pletcher win Saratoga titles
John Velazquez topped the Saratoga jockey standings for the second straight year, and trainer Todd Pletcher and owner Mike Repole also successfully defended their titles.
Velazquez had 54 winners to move to become the second leading rider at the Spa with 655 career victories.
The NYRA announced this summer that the Saratoga jockey title would be named after Hall of Famer Angel Cordero, Jr., agent and mentor to Velazquez. Cordero retired with 649 Saratoga victories and both he and Velazquez trail Hall of Fame rider Jerry Bailey, who visited the Saratoga winner's circle 693 times. Of Velazquez's wins, 31 came for Pletcher, and the rider carried Repole's blue and orange colors for nine wins.
Pletcher won his eighth Saratoga meet title and set a season record, earning the H. Allen Jerkens training title with 38 winners. The previous mark was 36, which Pletcher set last year.
His 149 starters in 2011 earned more than $3 million in purse money. Meet highlights included saddling Stay Thirsty to victory in the Travers, Hilda's Passion to win in the Ballerina, Sidney's Candy in the Fourstardave and Georgie's Angel in the Schuylerville on opening day.
Repole edged Michael Dubb on the final day Sunday, pushing his total to 16 when Grace Hall won the Spinaway and Silver Screamer took the turf sprint. Dubb was winless in three starts Monday.
Helped by his Travers victory with Stay Thirsty, Repole finished the meet with $1,485,280 in purse money.
Total attendance for the meet — 39 days with racing — was 871,772, down 0.7 percent from 878,284 for the 40-day meet in 2010. Daily average attendance of 22,353 was up 1.8 percent from 21,957 in 2010.
The on-track handle totaled $121,101,664, up 5.6 percent from $114,693,168 last year. Daily average on-track handle was $3,105,171, up 8.3 percent from $2,867,329 in 2010.