Jamie Ness Wins Twice Friday to Clinch Training Title

Takes 28-24 Lead into Saturday’s Closing Day Program

LAUREL, MD – Jamie Ness won with two of his five starters Friday, both under stable rider Jaime Rodriguez, to clinch the calendar year-opening Heritage Meet training title at Laurel Park.

Ness entered Friday’s penultimate day of the Heritage Meet with a 26-23 lead over Brittany Russell, who had four runners Friday. Ness and Rodriguez teamed up to win Race 5 with Derbyness ($5.80) and Race 7 with Get Set ($7.80), both of which the trainer co-owns as Jagger Inc.

Russell, who last year edged Ness to make history as the first woman to lead all trainers in annual wins at Laurel and historic Pimlico Race Course, won Friday’s Race 8 with favored Brady Bear ($5.20). Ness, with a 28-24 lead, has one runner on Saturday’s closing day program, while Russell is entered in two races.

Ness won last year’s winter meet title at Laurel, 34-30, over Russell, who he also edged at Laurel summer, 27-22. Russell won Pimlico’s Preakness and fall stands and topped Ness, 37-36, at Laurel fall. Overall, Russell finished with 118 wins in Maryland to 113 for Ness.

“It feels great,” Ness said. “It seems like me and Brittany always come down to the last couple days. She’s a young, up-and-coming trainer, and it’s nice to be in a trainer’s duel. I’ve been in a lot of them over the years and been on the short end a couple times. We were able to finish this meet real strong.”

Ness has won with eight of his last 18 starters at the meet (44 percent), passing Russell for the top spot with a four-win day March 24, all under Rodriguez to enable the 32-year-old Puerto Rico native to clinch his fourth meet title in Maryland since last year.

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Ness, 49, is coming off a 2023 season where his horses earned a career-best $11.2 million in purses to go along with 349 wins, the fifth time he has topped the 300 mark including a personal best 395 in 2012. He ranked second in North America in wins last year and third in both 2022 (326) and 2021 (311).

A South Dakota native, Ness began his racing career in the media relations department at Canterbury Park in Minnesota, where he won his first race in August 1999. At Laurel he won both his 2,000th race with Caylee’s Song Nov. 28, 2013 and his 4,000th with Sing Scat July 16, 2023.

“Right races, right timing. Our races went and the horses were ready and they performed,” Ness said. “We’ve got a good group of riders led by Jaime and Mychel Sanchez. It’s been a good winter. We didn’t lose a lot of training, so the horses stayed fit and together. It’s on to the next.”

Following Saturday’s closing day program, live racing returns to Laurel Park for the 15-day spring meet which opens Friday, April 5 and runs through Sunday, May 5. Post time will be 12:25 p.m.

Notes: Rodriguez kicked off his Friday hat trick in Race 4 aboard Swifty Devil ($4.40) for trainer Michael Gorham … Trainer Kieron Magee doubled with No Walk Inthe Park ($3.80) in Race 3 and Devil Pays in Gold ($5.60) in Race 9 … Shake and Bake Racing’s Devils Pays in Gold was racing for the first time following the sudden March 15 passing of his trainer, 45-year-old David Howard, due to a heart attack. Howard and Magee were close friends, both based at Pimlico … There will be a carryover of $14,660.95 in Saturday’s 20-cent Rainbow 6 (Races 5-10).

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