(Luis Saez / Photo Courtesy of NYRA)
From the Gulfstream Park Media Team:
Jockey Luis Saez, a two-time leading rider and track record holder for most wins on a single card, had one victory in his season debut Wednesday at Gulfstream Park’s 2021-2022 Championship Meet.
Saez, 29, guided Carolyn Friedberg’s 3-year-old filly Sweet Serenade to victory in featured Race 9, an entry-level optional claiming allowance for females 3 and up going 1 1/16 miles on the all-weather Tapeta surface. He ran second with his first mount of the meet, Life in Shambles, a Grade 3-winning 10-year-old gelding coming off a four-month layoff, in Race 2.
“I feel great,” Saez said. “The weather is good and I feel great here. I’m happy to be back.”
Saez arrived at Gulfstream leading all jockeys in North America with 1,512 mounts and ranking third with 259 wins and $24,950,684 in purse earnings. Represented by former trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, he has registered a career-high 29 graded-stakes victories this year including 10 Grade 1 races.
His most recent Grade 1 triumph came aboard Americanrevolution in the Dec. 4 Cigar Mile at Aqueduct for Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher. Five of Saez’s graded wins have come courtesy of 3-year-old colt Essential Quality, led by the Belmont (G1) and Travers (G1).
“We’ve been working hard and, thank God, everything’s been all right,” Saez said. “We’re happy to be doing as well as we’re doing right now. It’s a blessing for us. We just want to keep working.”
Another highlight for Saez this year was beating Ortiz Jr. to win his first riding title at Saratoga, finishing the summer stand with 64 victories and $6.23 million in purse earnings.
“That was a big, big goal for us. For a long time we were looking for success there and finally this year was a great year,” Saez said. “We won the title and it was a big thing for us.”
A native of Panama, Saez was the Championship Meet’s leading rider in 2016-2017 and 2017-2018, the latter with 137 wins, a record that stood until broken by Irad Ortiz Jr.’s 140 last winter. He won seven races on both Jan. 24 and March 29, 2018, tying a single-day mark set by Hall of Famer Jerry Bailey in 1996 and matched by Tyler Gaffalione in 2017 and Paco Lopez in 2020.
Saez finished fourth during the 2020-2021 Championship Meet with 85 wins and $3,074,978 in purse earnings. Among his victories were Zaajel in the Forward Gal (G3), Tax in the Harlan’s Holiday (G3) and Leinster in the Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint (G3). He also won six races on the Claiming Crown program including five of nine starter stakes led by Jesus’ Team in the $150,000 Jewel.
“I just try to ride with confidence and ride my horses and see what happens. It’s tough. Everywhere is tough. Nothing is easy. Sometimes people feel like you come here and you have it all, but it’s not like that. It’s very tough. You just have to keep working hard and hope for the best.”
Thursday’s Rainbow 6 Jackpot Pool Guaranteed at $250,000
The 20-cent Rainbow 6 gross jackpot pool will be guaranteed at $250,000 for Thursday’s 10-race card at Gulfstream Park.
The popular multi-race wager went unsolved during Wednesday’s 10-race program. Multiple tickets with all six winners were each worth $1,451.06.
Thursday’s sequence spans Races 5-10. Four of the six races are scheduled for the all-weather Tapeta surface, including maiden special weights for 2-year-olds in Race 5 and 2-year-old fillies in Race 8, both going a mile and 70 yards.
Race 7 is an optional claiming allowance for 2-year-old fillies sprinting six furlongs on the main track led by 5-2 program favorite Jumeirah, exiting three consecutive stakes and wearing blinkers for the first time. Florida-bred 3-year-olds and up will go five furlongs on the grass in Race 9, a second-level optional claiming allowance where three-time winner Mamba On Three is the lukewarm 5-2 top choice. Both horses are trained by Carlos David.
A 50-1 upset victory by William Boy fueled a massive payoff for a 10-cent Superfecta ticket in Wednesday’s opener at Gulfstream. William Boy ($111.40), ridden by David Boraco, keyed a $23,210.48 payoff for a dime. The 8-4-10-9 winning combination was completed by I Gen (17-1), Perpetual (8-1) and Forty Flash (3-1).
Who’s Hot: Jockey Tyler Gaffalione doubled Wednesday with Old Time Revival ($4.20) in Race 2 and Kobla Mas ($7.80) in Race 5. Paco Lopez also rode two winners, Lefthooklightsout ($4) in Race 3 and Classicstateofmind ($8.20) in Race 10.
Rainbow 6 Pool Guarantee: $250,000