Gabriel Saez Profile
|Born||Feb 01, 1988|
|Birthplace||Port Darien, Panama|
Inspired by Jorge Velasquez, the Panamanian is aiming to follow in his more famous compatriot's footsteps.
Gabriel Saez is consistently one of the leading jockeys on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. The Panamanian has a career record of more than 1,300 wins out of more than 9,000 lifetime starts. His total purse earnings sit above $50million, with his earnings per start at around $5,000.
Success in Panama and moving to the US
Gabriel Saez began his career in Panama City after graduating from the Laffit Pincay Jr. Academy in 2004. He was inspired by other Panamanian jockeys such as Pincay Jr. and Jorge Velasquez. Both riders made it to the United States and into the Hall of Fame.
By 2005, Saez was the leading apprentice jockey in Panama and in February 2006, he moved to the United States to begin his North American career.
Saez first started riding at Delaware Park and it didn't take him long to become the track's leading jockey. His first racing victory came as an apprentice, while his first close relationship was with trainer Larry Jones.
Jones provided Saez with his first graded stakes win with the filly Proud Spell. Saez then guided another one of Jones' fillies, Eight Belles, to a second-place finish in the 2008 Kentucky Derby.
In 2009, Saez was aboard the pre-race favorite Friesan Fire in the Kentucky Derby, but the pair finished way back in 18th. In that year's Preakness Stakes, Saez was paired with Friesan Fire once again and finished 10th.
After spending his first years in the United States at Delaware Park, Keeneland and Fair Grounds, Saez moved to the New York racing circuit and began riding at NYRA tracks, as well as at Monmouth Park.
In 2011, the jockey guided Summer Soiree to victory in the 2011 Del Mar Oaks (G2), and he also rode 2011 Horse of the Year Havre de Grace as they won the Obeah Stakes (G3).
In September 2013, Saez suffered an arm fracture that put him out for a month after being unseated at Delaware Park. He was racing in a maiden special weight turf race aboard To Dare Is to Do. The pair had been leading at the time, but the horse veered as they were at the top of the stretch. This saw the horse hit the inner rail and unseat Saez.
The period from 2014 to 2018 was steady for Saez, as he had more than 80 winners in each of those five years, although he didn't claim any graded stakes races. Indeed, he had a seven-year stretch without such a win. In 2019, Saez won his first Indiana Derby (G3), the biggest Indiana Thoroughbred race with a $500,000 purse. He was aboard the aptly-named Mr. Money for the victory, and the pair registered a winning time of 1:41.8, which was slightly slower than the track record of 1:41.19 for 1 1/16 miles. Saez earned more than $6million that year, making 2019 his most lucrative 12-month period.
Gabriel Saez entered the Kentucky Derby once again in 2020 with Mr. Big News. The racehorse was a 46/1 longshot and Saez was able to guide him to finish third out of 15 runners.
Major racing victories
Gabriel Saez has won many important races throughout his career. Some of the rider's top-graded stakes wins include the Matron Stakes (2007), the Sport Page Handicap (2008), the Bourbonette Oaks (2008 and 2011), the Amsterdam Stakes (2008), the Fair Grounds Oaks (2008), the Delaware Oaks (2008), the Kentucky Oaks (2008), the Alabama Stakes (2008), the Honeybee Stakes (2009), the Lecomte Stakes (2009), the Mineshaft Handicap (2009), the Monmouth Oaks (2009), the Risen Star Stakes (2009), the Louisiana Derby (2009 and 2019), the Tempted Stakes (2011), the Obeah Stakes (2011), the Boiling Springs Stakes (2011), the Del Mar Oaks (2011), the Louisville Handicap (2012), the Matt Winn Stakes (2019), the Pat Day Mile Stakes (2019), the West Virginia Derby (2019), the Indiana Derby (2019), the Ack Ack Stakes (2020), the Alysheba Stakes (2020), the New Orleans Classic Stakes (2020) and the Oaklawn Handicap (2020).
Gabriel Saez's horses
Gabriel Saez has guided many top horses to emphatic and impressive victories.
One of his first notable runners was the Grade 1 winner Proud Spell, a daughter of Proud Citizen and trained by Larry Jones. She retired with a career record of 7-4-2 from 13 starts and purse earnings above $2.1million. Proud Spell's most significant win under Saez came in the Alabama Stakes.
Another one of Saez's top runners is Allied Racing Stable's By My Standards. The son of Goldencents is trained by W. Bret Calhoun. He has made 14 starts, won six races and has earned more than $1.8million.
By My Standards still runs today. His most recent races have included the November 27, 2020, Clark Stakes, where he finished seventh, and September 4, 2020, Alysheba Stakes, where he crossed the line first. Saez was the jockey in both of these races. The most significant victory that By My Standards provided for Saez was the Louisiana Derby in 2019.
Allied Racing Stable and Spendthrift Farm's Mr. Money is another one of Saez's more recent mounts. Another son of Goldencents, he too is trained by W. Bret Calhoun. Mr. Money started the 2021 season with a career record of 6-3-0 from 18 lifetime starts and his purse earnings sit above $1.3million.
Mr. Money has recently run in events such as the Ack Ack Stakes (G3) at Churchill Downs on September 26, 2020, where he finished first, and the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (G1) at Keeneland on November 7, 2020, when he finished back in 11th. The biggest victory aboard Mr. Money for Saez came in the West Virginia Derby (G3) in 2019.
Saez's other top horses include names like Grade 2 winner Friesan Fire, Grade 1 winner Summer Soiree, Kodiak Kowboy, the aforementioned Eight Belles, and Buy the Barrel.