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Belmont at Big A: Manny Franco wins his 12th NYRA riding title



Belmont at Big A: Manny Franco wins his 12th NYRA riding title

Jockey Manny Franco earned his 12th New York Racing Association meet riding title when coming out on top at the Belmont at the Big A spring-summer meet that ran from May 2 through Sunday.

Statistics for the 35-day meet include the four-day Belmont Stakes racing festival last month at Saratoga, where Franco posted four wins.

Click here for Belmont at the Big A entries and results.

Franco, 29, topped the table on the heels of a prosperous Aqueduct spring meet, where he won the title with 28 wins. He built on that number at the spring-summer meet, visiting the winner’s circle 41 times as part of a 210: 41-41-25 record with $3,148,141 in earnings. It was the first spring-summer title for Franco, who was the leading rider on the NYRA circuit in 2018-19 and 2023.

“It’s special. I have never won this one before, so it’s amazing,” Franco said. “I’m so happy to have the opportunity from the owners, trainers, and my agent John Panagot. He’s the man behind the scenes. We just hope to keep this momentum going into Saratoga, and hopefully we get some more winners.”

Leading Franco’s wins were a pair of state-bred stakes conquests at two different racetracks with the New York-bred Spirit of St Louis, who won the off-the-turf Kingston at Saratoga and the Hudson Valley on closing day at Aqueduct. Franco also notched stakes scores aboard Dancing Buck in the listed Elusive Quality, with Drake’s Passage in the state-bred Commentator and with Rotknee in the state-bred Affirmed Success.

“Spirit of St Louis is a special one. I won twice on him at the meet, and he’s just an amazing horse,” Franco said. “All the wins mean a lot to everyone. I’m just happy to be in this position and to ride horses day in and day out. Here in New York it’s the toughest rider colony, and to be at the top is unbelievable. I’m still in the clouds.”

Franco completed the meet with a win rate of 19.5 percent and in-the-money rate of 51.0.

Irad Ortiz Jr. finished second with 37 wins, and Flavien Prat was third with 34.

Four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown earned his eighth spring-summer meet title when posting 32 wins.

Brown, who earned his 31st training title at a NYRA meet, was also the circuit’s leading trainer from 2015 to 2022. His performance at the spring-summer meet, where he posted a record of 130: 32-21-19 with $4,007,955 in earnings, was his first at NYRA since taking the Belmont at the Big A fall meet last year.

Brown completed the meet with a win rate of 24.6 percent and in-the-money rate of 55.4 percent. His wins were led by Grade 1 triumphs at Saratoga with Randomized in the Ogden Phipps and Chili Flag in the Just a Game. Brown enjoyed additional graded conquests in the Wonder Again (G2) with Segesta, Bed o’ Roses (G3) with Accede, Sheepshead Bay (G3) with Royalty Interest, Dwyer (G3) with Domestic Product, listed Wild Applause with Oversubscribed, and state-bred triumphs with Spirit of St Louis in the Kingston and Hudson Valley.

Linda Rice finished second with 22 wins, and Christophe Clément finished third with 17 wins.

Seth Klarman’s Klaravich Stables claimed their 27th owners’ title at a NYRA meeting with 14 wins, posting a record of 54: 14-7-8 and $1,571,023 in earnings to notch their fifth spring-summer title. Their wins were led by stakes scores with Brown-trained color-bearers in the Ogden Phipps with Randomized, the Sheepshead Bay with Royalty Interest, the Dwyer with Domestic Product and the Wild Applause with Oversubscribed. Klaravich Stables has been the leading owner on the NYRA circuit since 2019.

Michael Dubb finished second with 12 wins, and Linda Rice and Sanford Goldfarb tied for third with eight wins each.

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