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Ortiz rides 5 winners at Big A

AP - Sports

NEW YORK (AP) -- Irad Ortiz Jr. rode five winners at Aqueduct on Friday - falling a victory shy of tying the New York Racing Association record.

The mark was equaled most recently by Javier Castellano last Saturday.

The five-win performance moved Ortiz in second place in the Big A standings with 11 victories, three behind Castellano, who returned Friday after missing one day of action.

Castellano was sidelined after being thrown to the track when his mount stumbled past the finish line in the last race Wednesday. He was winless with five mounts Friday.

This was the second time this year Ortiz logged five wins at Aqueduct, having also done it on Jan. 21.

His biggest win of the afternoon came aboard Royal Blessing in the $77,000 allowance feature on the turf.

Rallying from 10th, Royal Blessing beat Unitarian, with Castellano aboard, by 2 1/2 lengths. The 4-year-old trained by Tom Albertrani improved to 4 for 9, paying $9.40, $4.60 and $3.50. Unitarian, the 3-1 favorite, returned $4.40 and $3.20 while English Minister paid $5.50. The time was 2:18.08 for 1 3/8 miles on the firm course.

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