Luis Saez picking up steam for the Spa
With Saratoga opening on July 15, Luis Saez is gaining momentum at the right time. The 29-year-old native of Panama won 11 races at Belmont Park last week, recording three-baggers on Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday.
It had been a slow spring/summer meet for Luis Saez, who was hovering around a 10% win rate at the end of June. Last week’s strong showing moved him to fifth in the Belmont jockey standings, improving to 35-of-244 (14%) for the meet, and Saez now ranks fourth among North American jockeys with 137 total wins this year.
Thursday kicked off a five-day week, and Saez captured the opener aboard Lovely Lady Lexi. He added wins on the program with Voliero and Ready A. P., the latter an impressive debuter for Chrisophe Clement. A New York-bred juvenile filly by More Than Ready, Ready A. P. overcame a rough start to win the restricted maiden special weight going away by 8 1/4 lengths.
After guiding A Bit o’Irish Sass to a convincing triumph on Friday, Saez visited the winner’s circle thrice on Saturday with Tiergan, Bodecream, and Truth Hurts. Riding short-priced favorites makes the job easier for any jockey, but Bodecream ($14.40) and Truth Hurts ($18) returned double-digit mutuels.
They were a clear indication that Saez was heating up.
The skilled pilot booted home three more winners on Sunday. Alpine Queen and Fiya were no surprise at short odds, but Original benefitted from a heady ride on the front end to upset the Manila S. at nearly 7-1 ($15.80).
Saez provided supporters with another nice return on Sunday aboard Sister Otoole ($11.40), who had little difficultly recording a one-length score as the 4.70-1 fifth choice in a turf allowance.
Ranked among the top 10 jockeys nationally in wins every year since 2017, Saez recorded a personal milestone in early June, earning his first Triple Crown race win aboard Essential Quality in the Belmont S. (G1). He also picked up his first Breeders’ Cup victory via Essential Quality in last fall’s Juvenile (G1).
At least in the short term, bettors would be wise to pay attention to Saez.
He hasn’t finished higher than fourth in the Saratoga jockey standings the last three seasons, but Saez might be poised for a better showing in 2021.