Luis Saez counted the Grade III Old Hat Stakes at Gulfstream Park among his 13 wins last week to be named the Jockeys’ Guild Jockey of the Week. The title goes to the week’s outstanding jockey in the opinion of a panel of industry experts and the public consensus. They looked at races run from December 29-January 4.
Saez won five races on Sunday’s 11-race card. The 22-year-old rider captured Sunday’s opener with Dreaming of Joey ($8), adding wins with Itsaknockout ($7.40) in the fourth, Very Few Details ($8.80) in the sixth, Season Ticket ($17.40) in the eighth and Senorita Divina ($8.20) in the finale. He also finished second with Mademoiselle Belle in the second.
“It feels great,” Saez said. “We try to win all the time when we ride the horses, and today the horses ran good. I had a good feeling today. The horses all tried so hard, and thank God we’re doing good.”
Overall for the week, Saez won 13 races with 2 seconds and 2 thirds from 37 starts for earnings of $21,130. The average mutuel payout on his 13 winning rides was $12.32.
Saez started his week with three wins on Wednesday and closed out with five wins on Sunday. In between, he won a pair of stakes on Saturday.
In the Grade III Old Hat Stakes, Saez took Ekati’s Phaeton to a half-length win over odds-on favorite Fashion Alert. The filly paid $17.20 to win.
“We had a perfect trip,” Saez said. “My filly broke good. It looked like she could have taken the lead, but I didn’t want to do that. I saw a replay of her last race and she looked like she waited for horses. Today, I wanted to come from behind. When we came to the stretch, I had to let her run. When she saw (R Sassy Lass) passing her, she started running again.”
Saez also won the Spectacular Bid Stakes on Saturday riding Barbados.
Saez rode his first winner in his native Panama on March 14, 2009. He won his first Grade I stakes in 2013 with Will Take Charge in the Travers at Saratoga and the Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs.
Luis Saez currently ranks first in wins and second in earnings at Gulfstream Park. Saez, whose 17-year-old brother Juan Saez died from head injuries as the result of a spill at Indiana Grand in October, said, “When we started here it was a little tough because of everything that happened with my little brother. We came in here and are working hard, and when the trainers give me the opportunity, I try to win all the time. I have to say thanks to everybody.”
JockeyTalk360.com spotlights the riders across North America and around the world who may be the bravest, toughest and most accomplished of all athletes. The Jockey of the Week is selected by a vote of representatives of America’s Best Racing, the Daily Racing Form, Equibase, the Jockeys’ Guild, the Paulick Report, the Thoroughbred Daily News, National Thoroughbred Racing Association, National Turf Writers and Broadcasters, Thoroughbred Racing Associations, Turf Publicists of America, and the public consensus.