Saez Back Home at Gulfstream Park
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL
– Jockey Luis Saez enjoyed a homecoming at Gulfstream Park Sunday following his first riding stint outside South Florida this year. The 21-year-old rising star, who has enjoyed considerable success since leaving Gulfstream last spring as the fourth leading rider in wins and purses-won at the 2012-2013 meeting, didn’t make it into the winner’s circle, but he was happy to be back in familiar surroundings.
”It’s nice to come home. I love it here,” said Saez, who was the dominant South Florida-based rider since he began riding at 16. “My house is here. My family’s here. I just want to keep winning races.”
A graduate of the Laffit Pincay Jr. Jockey’s School in Panama, Saez has successfully established himself outside South Florida this year while competing on the New York circuit and in major national stakes with a big assist from agent Richard DePass.
Saez showed he belongs among the riding elite while finishing eighth during the Belmont spring meeting, in which he rode five winners on the May 31st program. But it was at Saratoga where the native of Panama City, Panama made a national impression. After riding the winner of the first race of Saratoga’s 150th Anniversary meeting, Saez went on to guide the D. Wayne Lukas-trained Will Take Charge into the winner’s circle following a memorable upset victory in the $1 million Travers Stakes (G1) by a nose.
“It was unbelievable. I thank Mr. Lukas for the opportunity to ride the horse,” said Saez, who followed up his first Grade 1 victory aboard the long striding colt with a 2 ¼-length victory in the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby (G2) less than a month later.
Saez and Will Take Charge missed winning North America’s richest race by the rapidly diminishing margin of a nose in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic, won by Mucho Macho Man at Santa Anita on Nov. 2.
“He ran big that day. When we came into the stretch, I lost a little bit of ground because someone pushed me out a little bit. But that’s the game,” Saez said. “There’s nothing you can do, but he ran good and came back to beat Game on Dude.”
After guiding Will Take Charge to victory by a head over Game On Dude in the Clark Handicap (G1) at Churchill Downs last Friday, Saez can expect to be invited to the Eclipse Awards ceremony at Gulfstream Park Jan. 18 when the Lukas-trained colt is a lock to be named champion 3-year-old male.
Will Take Charge, who was an also ran in all three Triple Crown races, clearly has responded positively since the rider change to Saez for the Travers.
“He’s a big horse with a big stride. You’ve got to start riding at the half-mile pole to get him going. When he gets into the stretch, he’s a different horse,” Saez said. “He’s a strong horse and he’s coming to win.”
Who's Hot: Jockey Paco Lopez, who rode four winners on Saturday’s opening day card for the Champions Meet, added three more victories Sunday. The former two-time Gulfstream champion and trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. teamed for back-to-back victories with On Parole ($6) in the second and Yes Im Sweet ($12.40) in the third. Lopez added a victory aboard Burning Truth ($12.60) in the ninth.
Hall of Famer Edgar Prado rode back-to-back winners: Marnesia Wild Heir ($21.80) in the seventh and Newspaper Boy ($5.40) in the eighth.
Trainer Steve Towne saddled a pair of winners: Pan Am Lady ($3.60) in the sixth and Hurricane Pass ($36.40) in the 10th.
Rainbow 6 Carryover: $50,000
Super Hi 5 Carryover: $1,710.32
GULFSTREAM PARK is a Stronach Group company, North America’s leading Thoroughbred racetrack owner/operator. The Stronach Group racetracks include Santa Anita Park, Gulfstream Park & Casino, Golden Gate Fields, Portland Meadows, Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course, home of the world-famous Preakness. The company owns and operates the Palm Meadows Training Center in Florida, and is one of North America's top race horse breeders through its award-winning Adena Springs operation. The Stronach Group is one of the world's largest suppliers of pari-mutuel wagering systems, technologies and services. Its companies include AmTote, a global leader in wagering technology; XpressBet, an Internet and telephone account wagering service; and Monarch Content Management, which acts as a simulcast purchase and sales agent of horseracing content for numerous North American racetracks and wagering outlets.The Stronach Group is also a major producer of televised horseracing programming through its HRTV cable and satellite network and is North America's premier supplier of virtual online horseracing games, as well as a leading producer of social media content for the horseracing industry. For more information contact David Joseph at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 954.457.6451.