(Leahey, Anderson tie for Juan Saez Award as leading apprentice jockey at Horseshoe Indianapolis / Photo Courtesy of Horseshoe Indianapolis)

Leahey, Anderson tie for Juan Saez Leading Apprentice Jockey title at Horseshoe Indianapolis

 Hannah Leahey and McKenna Anderson have been in sync all season. Both jockeys came into Indiana in the spring as apprentice jockeys. Both lost their apprenticeship the same week in late August, and both scored 16 wins during that time frame to earn the title in the 10th annual Juan Saez Leading Apprentice award.

“It’s really cool and nice to get rewarded from all the hard work that we both put in throughout the year,” said Anderson. “We have worked with some really hard-working people here and we thank them for giving us this opportunity to ride.”

Leahey added, “It’s such an achievement. McKenna and I have been riding together from the beginning. It’s a great feeling to share this award with her. We thank all the barns that helped us get here.”

Leahey, a native of Bloomington, Ill., was introduced to Thoroughbred racing when she took on a job to help pay for her event (show) horses. She eventually pursued a career full time as a jockey, and began her career in March 2022 at Turf Paradise, winning her third start aboard Freiburg. An injury sidelined her for a while and delayed her career as a jockey, but she returned this season at Oaklawn in Arkansas, which led her straight to Horseshoe Indianapolis. Leahey continued to win races after losing her apprenticeship and now has 21 wins to rank among the top 15 jockeys in her first season of competition in Indiana.

A native of Washington State, Anderson headed straight to the track after graduation and began working as a groom. She worked her way up through the ranks and received her jockey license in 2021 at her home track Emerald Downs, winning her first race aboard Tippytap on Sand. Her career then took her to Turf Paradise in Arizona before a move to the Midwest. Anderson is spending her second year at Horseshoe Indianapolis. After limited starts last season, she came back this year and her career took off. She is currently tied for 11th in the standings with 23 wins.

Leahey and Anderson will part ways at the end of the season. Anderson is headed to Oaklawn for the winter while Leahey is staying local with a plan to work horses a few days a week during winter training at Horseshoe Indianapolis and also ride at nearby Turfway Park.

The tie between Leahey and Anderson is the second in the 10-year history of the award. Joe Ramos and Kendal Sterritt also tied for the title in 2019. Leahey and Anderson become the sixth and seventh female jockeys to win the award.

The Juan Saez Leading Apprentice Jockey award is named in honor of the 18-year-old Panamanian jockey, Juan Saez, who was tragically lost in a racing incident in 2014 at Horseshoe Indianapolis. He was posthumously awarded the Leading Apprentice title that season, and the award was officially named after him.

The 22nd season of live Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing begins with a special Monday, April 8, 2024. The racing program begins at 12 p.m. for Total Solar Eclipse Day in the area. Racing extends through Thursday, Nov. 14. For more information on live racing at Horseshoe Indianapolis, visit www.caesars.com/horseshoe-indianapolis.