From the Paulick Report
It was a somber day at racetracks across the country and on social media Wednesday as fellow jockeys, fans, executives, and others mourned the loss of 17-year-old rider Juan Saez.
Saez died late Tuesday night from injuries sustained in an accident during the eighth race at Indiana Grand in Shelbyville, Ind.
Indiana Grand cancelled its card for Wednesday, but at several tracks where racing did take place, there were moments of silence in memory of Saez. At Keeneland, jockeys, staff and other connections gathered in the tunnel to honor the talented younger brother of successful jockey Luis Saez.
Indiana Grand announced that it would hold a public memorial Thursday to honor the life and career of Juan Saez.
“A moment such as this gives us great pause, and reminds us all that our racing athletes bravely risk their lives each and every day,” said Jim Brown, Centaur Gaming’s president, COO and Indiana Grand general manager. “We ask that our local racing fans as well as those watching via simulcast join us on Thursday as we remember Juan and pay our respects to our fallen friend.”
“To have an up-and-coming star in the sport of horse racing taken from us so young is a tragedy,” said Jon Schuster, Indiana Grand’s vice president and general manager of racing. “His passion for horse racing was immense and only surpassed by his good-natured outlook on life.”
Many racing organizations and individuals in the industry expressed their condolences to the Saez family.
“Juan was such a talented and sweet kid, with a promising future,” said John Velazquez, chairman of the Jockeys’ Guild. “It is like losing a member of the family. We are competing against one another on the track, but off of the track, we are all very close.
Tributes also came pouring in from across the industry on social media. Some race fans also have taken to Twitter encouraging donations to the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund in memory of Saez. The organization has advised the best way to donate is by texting JOCKEY to 50555.