Jockey Gabriel Saez achieved a milestone on Saturday when the newly turned 29-year-old Panama City, Panama, native earned his 1,000th career victory when I Hope won the eighth race at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.
A graduate of the Laffit Pincay Jockey Training Academy in his native country, Saez began riding professionally on Dec. 8, 2006 in said Central American nation and won his first race there on Jan. 8, 2007. He came to the United States that year, joining the jockey colony at Delaware Park and going on to ride regularly for major supporter and multiple Grade I-winning trainer Larry Jones.
Saez’s top mounts include champions Proud Spell, Havre de Grace and Kodiak Kowboy, as well as Grade I winners Summer Soiree and Believe You Can, Louisiana Derby winner Friesan Fire and multiple graded stakes winner Just Jenda. He considers his most talented pupil thus far to have been Fox Hill Farm’s Kentucky Derby runner-up, the great filly Eight Belles. So far he has won 22 graded stakes, three Grade Is and more than $34.2 million in purses.
The millenary victory was the proverbial cherry on top of a significant week for Saez. In addition to celebrating his 29th birthday on Wednesday, Feb. 1, his wife is expecting their second child – a daughter – on Monday.
“It feels great. I’m glad I got it done down here at Fair Grounds, basically where everything started for my career,” Saez said. “I’m glad to be back at Fair Grounds and back in New Orleans, and there can’t be a better place to have a 1,000th winner than here.”