'This Is My Saratoga': John Ortiz Captures First Training Title At Ellis Park - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

‘This Is My Saratoga’: John Ortiz Captures First Training Title At Ellis Park

John Ortiz celebrates his first leading trainer title in the Ellis Park winner’s circle

The historic 2022 RUNHAPPY Ellis Park Summer Meet finished on a high note on Sunday.

“We have had a wonderful summer racing season and we are very appreciative of the support from our community for Ellis Park,” said Ellis Park General Manager, Jeff Inman. “We have been blessed with great crowds, fantastic racing and tremendous support from the horsemen and bettors. As we close out our 100th year of racing, it is only fitting that we have one of the most successful race meetings in our storied history.”

The 23-day live racing meet concluded with an eight-race card on Sunday.

Titles for leading trainer, jockey and owner were awarded throughout the day on Sunday. Gerardo Corrales was awarded Leading Jockey and Leading Owner went to Gary and Mary West.

There was a three-way tie for leading trainer between Steve Asmussen, Brad Cox and John Ortiz going into the final day. The deciding win came early in the day as trainer John Ortiz added another victory in the first race with A Little Wild, a debuting son of Union Rags. The award marks the first Leading Trainer title for young trainer, John Ortiz.

“I want to thank everyone at Ellis Park, the management, racing office, hospitality and the fans,” said Ortiz. “It's a fantastic place to be. They do so much for the racing, the community, and the fans. I've always run here, since I was an assistant trainer for Kellyn Gorder, when we tied for the title with Buff Bradley in 2014. It's just been my dream to come back here and win it for myself. I've admired Steve and Brad my entire life, I appreciate them, I call them when I need any advice and they've always been there for me. To be able to run one, two, three with them… I ran third in the standings at Oaklawn this year against them and to be able to beat them… this is my Saratoga meet. It means a lot.”

Despite having seven less racing days than 2021, Ellis Park field sizes during the 2022 season increased by 9.8 percent. The average handle increased by 19.7 percent, and average commission increased by 14.6 percent.

“The caliber of racing over the last eight weeks is a true testament to the strength of the Kentucky racing circuit and the vital and important role that Ellis Park plays in that circuit,” said Vince Gabbert, Interim Director of Racing. “We have seen some great performances on the track this summer and look forward to watching the next crop of racing stars come out of the Ellis summer meet. An extremely big thank you to the horsemen, jockeys and staff that all support racing and have helped to make 2022 a very successful meet.”

For its 2022 race meet, Ellis Park offered many nostalgic track events and promotions that were lost since before COVID-19. These community favorites included things like blanket presentations, wiener dog races, dollar days, and Family Day.

“For the 100th anniversary, we wanted to bring Ellis Park back to its roots – a family place in the Tri-State community – and honor it with the things that make this community great,” said Allie Sclafani, Interim Marketing Director. “The Ellis Park team should be very proud of what we were able to accomplish this year.”

Ellis Park partnered with local fire & police departments to thank the community for its support as well as over a dozen local and endemic 503c non-profit organizations throughout the 2022 RUNHAPPY Summer at Ellis Park to give back to the Henderson community, including: Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (TAA), Jockeys Across America (PDJF), Susan G. Komen, Healing Reins of Kentucky, P.A.A.W.S., New Hope Animal Rescue Center, New Life Rescues, Vanderburgh Humane Society, Boys & Girls Club of Henderson, Horsemen's Benevolent & Protection Organization (HBPA), Horses & Hope, and more.

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