Saffie Joseph Jr. ‘Blessed’ with 3 Horses in G1 Pegasus World Cup
Barbados Native Credits Owners, Horses, Family for Mounting Success
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Evidence of Saffie Joseph Jr.’s rapid rise into the upper echelon of thoroughbred trainers in the U.S. will be on display Saturday at Gulfstream Park, where the Barbados native is scheduled to saddle three starters in the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) presented by Baccarat.
“I’m just blessed to be in the position. Six years ago, if you told me I’d have one, I would have been very happy,” Joseph said. “I don’t think we’re bringing anyone that isn’t a contender. We’re bringing three legit horses. Things have gone well for them training up to the race. They’re three live horses. I thank the owners for the opportunity.”
Joseph will be represented in the first multi-million-dollar stakes of the 2023 racing season by C2 Racing Stable LLC and La Milagrosa Stable LLC’s White Abarrio, who captured last season’s $1 million Curlin Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream; Daniel Alonso’s Skippylongstocking, the third-place finisher in the 2022 Belmont Stakes (G1) who is coming off a career-best effort in a Harlan’s Holiday (G3) triumph at Gulfstream; and Fernando Vine Ode and Michael and Jules Iavarone’s O’Connor, a Group 1 winner in Chile.
Six years ago, Joseph was coming off a career-best 19 wins with just over $400,000 in purses-won in 2016. In 2022, he saddled the winners of 174 races and $10.1 million in purses, a year after his stable banked $9 million and won 201 races.
“To be honest with you, I’m probably the smallest piece of the puzzle. The staff we’ve been able to acquire and the horses the owners have given us, if you took me out of the equation, I think the show would still run pretty good,” Joseph said. “I get a lot of the credit, but I’m probably the least important factor. We’re strong in having a great team. There are not two ways about it, we can’t do it without the team. Everybody has to do their part. I always tell the team, ‘Not one person can make us, but one person can break us.’ We need people with a positive attitude and try harder rather than doing their own thing.”
His growing success has been accompanied with mounting ‘jealousy,’ said Joseph, who credits his faith in allowing him to block out the outside noise and concentrate on building his stable.
“All glory to God, being my protector,” he said. “Seeing how things have happened in my career, and seeing the jealousy, he’s the protector.”
Joseph deflects both credit and criticism, maintaining that Thoroughbred owners hold the key to any trainer’s success.
“There’s no superhero trainer out there. People may want to portray that’s the reality,” said Joseph, who is currently at the top of the Gulfstream standings in his quest to defend his 2021-2022 Championship Meet title. “There’s obviously good trainers out there, but when you get to the Top 10, Top 15 trainers, there’s not much difference between them. What separates them is the horses.”
Joseph, who had regularly maintained a 20-percent strike rate while racing almost exclusively in South Florida since venturing from Barbados to the U. S. prior to the 2011 racing season, saw a significant boost in quality in his stable after saddling Math Wizard for a 31-1 upset victory in the 2019 Pennsylvania Derby (G1).
“It was our first Grade 1 winner and, obviously, being nationally televised on NBC, it was definitely a coming-out victory for us,” Joseph said. “When you win those kind of races, people have more confidence to give you higher quality horses. He took us to our first Breeders’ Cup Classic. Being claiming for $25,000, he definitely started it all.”
Since Math Wizard’s triumph, Joseph has saddled the winners of 22 graded stakes while balancing his career with his family, wife Morgan, daughter Sienna (8) and son Rocco (6). His wife’s involvement in the business aspects of his stable has allowed him to concentrate on his racing operation.
“It’s true, every successful man has a strong wife, woman, behind him,” Joseph said. “To see my wife raise our kids, being a mother has to be the hardest job in the world. All mothers out there, full respect to them. You can just see how hard it is. It’s just pure love.
“She’s a big part. Morgan deals with all the bills, billing for the owners,” he added. “If I had to do the billing and the bills, that’s the part I dread. I get to concentrate on the horses, and she gets to concentrate on all the hard work.”
Joseph will be able to stay busy Saturday while waiting to saddle his three starters in the Pegasus World Cup, His stable will be represented in eight of the 13 races, including the $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (G1) presented by Qatar Racing in Race 12 (Master Piece) and the $500,000 TAA Pegasus World Cup Filly & Mare Turf Invitational (G3) presented by Pepsi in Race 11 (Artie’s Princess).