Gabriel Saez Returns to the Winner's Circle

on 03/14/2022 2:59 PM

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Fair Grounds press rlease 3/10/2022

Injured seven months ago in a freak accident at home, the native of Panama scores with just his second mount back

The wildcat blue of Allied Racing Stable has been very good to jockey Gabriel Saez. On Thursday at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, the 34-year-old native of Panama returned to the winner’s circle for the first time in more than seven months wearing those familiar colors, guiding .70-1 favorite Lake Marie to a 9 ¼ length victory in a $12,500 Louisiana-bred maiden claiming sprint. 

            “Super glad to be back and for the combination of Bret (trainer Calhoun) and Allied Racing,” Saez said. “Coming back off the fracture in my leg, go through that, and be able to come back, and that’s the main thing. I’m really thankful for my doctors at the University of Kentucky, they did a really good job with my leg. Thanks to the medical center I have been able to come back through the rehab and do what I love. I lost a lot of muscle in my leg. It's going to take me some time to get back to 100%, but I’m getting there.”

Thursday’s win was the 1,393rd of Saez’s career. Of his 31 graded stakes victories, nine have come for Allied Racing Stable of Chester Thomas -- four aboard By My Standards, including the 2019 LA Derby (G2) and 2020 New Orleans Classic (G2), and five with Mr. Money. His last mount prior to the leg injury came aboard By My Standards in the August 7 Whitney (G1) at Saratoga where he finished fifth.   

Saez won the 2008 Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) and Kentucky Oaks (G1) with Proud Spell. Some of his other top local wins include the 2009 Lecomte (G3), Risen Star (G3 at the time) and Louisiana Derby (G2) with Friesan Fire and the 2009 Mineshaft (G3) with Honest Man.

            Saez finished eighth in the Fair Grounds’ jockey standings each of the past two seasons, with 41 wins in 2020-21 and 35 in 2019-20.

In his first race back on Wednesday, Saez finished fifth aboard Chopin Drive in a maiden special weight race for trainer Phil Bauer and owner Richard Rigney. Now that Saez’s injury is behind him, he can once again focus on his future.

“We only have two, three weeks left here at Fair Grounds and my goal is to get ready for the circuit in Kentucky,” Saez explained. “I was talking to my agent (Liz Morris), and the plan is to finish up here and go to Oaklawn for the last month. It will be a lot easier for me to go there and get on more horses. I could go to Keeneland, but with all the riders coming from here, and Arkansas, New York and Florida, that meet is really tough. Then I can go back home to Churchill Downs.”

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