Leading Gulfstream Park rider, Luis Saez won three of the five graded stakes for three-year-olds Saturday on Holy Bull Day to earn Jockey of the Week for January 31 through February 6. The honor, which is voted on by a panel of racing experts, is for jockeys who are members of the Jockeys’ Guild, the organization which represents more than 1050 active, retired and permanently disabled jockeys in the United States.
The seven-furlong Grade III Swale was the first graded stakes of the day with Saez in the irons for Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher on My Prankster. Off as the even-money favorite in the field of six and breaking from the rail, My Prankster raced near the back of the field. On the backside, Saez angled My Prankster to the outside and challenged the leaders at the top stretch. My Prankster gained command from Dean Delivers and jockey Miguel Vasquez down the lane and posted a one-half length win in 1:23.13.
“He got a good break today,” said Saez. “We knew they had a lot of speed in the race so the plan was to get him in the clear and go from there…he always tries, he tried pretty hard today and he got the job done so it was a good race for him.”
Riding for trainer Brad Cox, Saez was aboard Louisiana invader, Girl With a Dream in the filly counterpart to the Swale, the Grade III Forward Gal. Breaking from post position six in the field of seven, Saez and Girl With a Dream lead throughout the seven furlongs while holding off the favorite Radio Days and jockey Dylan Davis to post a one-length victory in 1:23.42.
“She broke from there pretty sharp,” said Saez. “She went and she was pretty comfortable all the way. We came to the top of the stretch and I felt like I had a lot of horse. She kept battling, and she beat them. I felt like every step, when the other filly (Radio Days) came close, she responded more.”
Trainer Roderick Rodriguez gave a leg up to Saez on Opelina in the Grade III Sweetest Chant at one mile and one-sixteenth on the turf. Off as the co-second choice in the field of nine, Saez and Opelina settled in fourth. Leaving the backstretch, Saez gave Opelina her cue swinging three wide to quickly pass the leaders and holding on to win by three-quarters of a length in 1:41.56.
“When she took the lead in the stretch, she kind of waited for the other ones, but when she got on the left (lead) she gave me another gear,” said Saez.
Saez’s weekly statistics were 43-7-9-7 with total purse earnings of $396,620.
Other nominees for Jockey of the Week were Jose L. Ortiz with two graded stakes wins at Aqueduct, Flavien Prat with a stakes win at Santa Anita, Jaime Rodriguez who tied for number of wins for the week with nine and Tim Thornton who also posted nine wins for the week.