(Luis Saez / Photos by Holly M. Smith)
From the Churchill Downs Media Team:
Jockey Luis Saez made his presence felt Saturday at Churchill Downs as the 30-year-old vaulted to the top of the Fall Meet standings with six victories on the 12-race card.
Saez entered Sunday’s closing day card with a 23-17 win lead over Tyler Gaffalione and Brian Hernandez Jr. in his attempt to win his first riding title beneath the historic Twin Spires.
“I love it here at Churchill Downs,” Saez said. “Every day I come here to try and ride the best I can. It was a great day and I’m very grateful.”
Saez, who began riding in 2009, is one of North America’s top jockeys. He finished last season ranked No. 3 in North America with 293 wins and $26,194,654 in earnings. Represented by retired trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, Saez was riding his first full-time meet at Churchill Downs this fall.
On Saturday’s card, Saez was chasing the record one-day win total set by Pat Day (June 20, 1984) andJulien Leparoux (Nov. 11, 2008) but came one-win short of tying the record.
Saez began Saturday on a tear winning the first five of six races. His only early blemish was a runner-up effort in Race 2. Saez found the winner’s circle one additional time in Race 11 aboard Instant Coffee in the $400,000 Kentucky Jockey Club (GII).
“In his last start (in the Breeders’ Futurity) I really thought he was going to be close to the pace,” Saez said. “He had so much trouble early on in the race that he wasn’t where he needed to be. He made a big move pretty late but it was too late. There were some really good horses in there. I told (trainer) Brad (Cox) I want to ride him back because I think he can improve a lot.”
Saez was slated to ride eight horses on Sunday’s program.
Gaffalione and Hernandez would need to have a record day to tie or pass Saez in the standings. Gaffalione had 10 mounts while Hernandez had eight.
In the trainer standings, Mike Maker held a 12-9 win lead over Steve Asmussen. Maker, seeking his eighth Churchill Downs title and fifth during the Fall Meet, had horses in entered in Races 9, 10, 11 while Asmussen had entries in Races 1, 3, 5, 6 and 12.
In the owner standings, there was a six-way tie at the top between Godolphin (3 wins, no entries); Lothenbach Stables (3 wins, no entries); Paradise Farms Corp. and David Staudacher (3 wins, no entries); Stonestreet Stables (3 wins, no entries); Susan and Jim Hill (3 wins, no entries) and Three Diamonds Farm(3 wins, no entries). On the outside looking in was Penny Lauer (2 wins, one entry Race 3); Kyle Nagel (2 wins, one entry Race 8); Slam Dunk Racing (2 wins, one entry Race 12); Triple V Racing (2 wins, one entry Race 9) and Steve Asmussen (1 win, entries Races 1, 3, 5, 6).
DOWN THE STRETCH – Closing Day of the Fall Meet was Sunday where there were mandatory payouts in all wagers including the Derby City 6, which had a carryover pool of $23,662. First post was 1 p.m. and the Derby City 6 spanned Races 7-12. … Racing in Kentucky will shift north to Turfway Park which will run Nov. 30-April 1. We send our thanks to all members of the media who covered our races and made for another historic year beneath the Twin Spires. Opening day of the 2023 Spring Meet is Saturday, April 29.
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