OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Jose Ortiz continued his dominance of the Aqueduct spring meet on Saturday, winning four more races, including the $100,000 Plenty of Grace Stakes on Mrs McDougal, who received a perfect stalking trip.
Sitting third behind Harp N Halo and Means Well early on, Mrs McDougal swept three-wide turning for home, took the lead in mid-stretch, and easily held the late-running Strike Charmer at bay to win by a length. It was seven lengths back to Miss Atomic Bomb in third.
Saturday was the seventh time in 12 cards at this meet that Ortiz won at least three races on a card. On Friday, Ortiz also won four races. For the meet, Ortiz has won 33 races from 89 mounts and he’s 9 for 17 on the turf. His brother Irad, who rode at Oaklawn on Saturday, has 19 wins.
“It feels great; very happy,” Ortiz said “I’m riding good horses too. My agent [Jim Riccio Jr.] is doing a great job picking up horses and I guess I’m riding them well. They come ready.”
Trainer Chad Brown had Mrs McDougal ready in her first start since last Oct. 24, when she finished third in the Grade 3 Valley View Stakes at Keeneland.
Mrs McDougal had won the Grade 2 Lake George last summer at Saratoga stalking from fifth. Saturday, Mrs McDougal broke sharp and Ortiz knew that Harp N Halo would go to the lead. He was pleased to see Means Well, a 47-1 shot under Eric Cancel, go with her through a quarter-mile in 24.17 seconds and a half-mile in 48.07. Ortiz was content to sit third.
“By the three-eighths pole I angled myself out a little bit,” Ortiz said. “When my filly saw the clear she took off by herself. I waited and waited until we got to the three-sixteenths pole and when I make her switch leads and ask her to go she gave me a good run to the wire.”
Mrs McDougal, a daughter of Medaglia d’Oro owned by William and Suzanne Warren, covered the mile in 1:35.65 over firm turf and returned $4.30 as the favorite.
“Jose rode a very good race, sat right behind the speed. It was the ideal setup for her,” said Cherie DeVaux, assistant trainer to Brown. “She’s agreeable. She hasn’t been a one-dimensional kind of horse.”