Fresh off a victory in the richest race in Thoroughbred history, jockey Luis Saez returned to his South Florida roots Wednesday,
After riding Maximum Security to an historic triumph in the $20 million Saudi Cup Saturday in Saudi Arabia, it was business as usual for the world #37, who accepted seven mounts on Wednesday’s program at Gulfstream Park.
“It’s was amazing, but I’m so glad to come back and be here,” the 27-year-old Panama native, who began riding in South Florida in 2009 and enjoyed immediate success.
Saez, who has enjoyed a long and successful association with agent Richard DePass while amassing 2,362 wins and more than $116 million in purses won, will join forces with Kiaran McLaughlin, who made the decision to step away from a highly successful training career to become his new agent on the conclusion of the current Gulfstream Championship Meet.
“[DePass] told me he wanted to retire. We sat at the table, me, him and Kiaran, and we made the decision,” Saez said “I’m going to miss him a lot.”
McLaughlin and Saez have enjoyed a successful trainer-jockey association over the years.
“I’m so glad, because Kiaran is a man I respect,” Saez said. “He has treated me so good and given me so much support. Having him as an agent is very special.”
Trainer Jason Servis provided Saez with the mount-of-a-lifetime in Maximum Security, who closed resolutely to pass pacesetter Mucho Gusto in deep stretch and hold off Midnight Bisou by a half-length in the Saudi Cup.
“It was something special for me, all the connections, my family, everybody,” Saez said. “He was coming. The horse on the lead [pacesetter Mucho Gusto] was running too. For a second, I didn’t know if we could beat him, but in the last jumps, we got there.”
Maximum Security and Saez captured the $1 million G1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream last season before finishing first by 1¾ lengths in the Kentucky Derby, only to be controversially disqualified and placed 17th.
Maximum Security went on to be named 3-year-old champion at the Eclipse Awards at Gulfstream in January after finishing off his sophomore campaign with wins in the G1 Haskell, G3 Bold Ruler and G1 Cigar Mile. Just like he did in the Kentucky Derby, Maximum Security left little doubt who the best horse in Riyadh race was, only this time he would not be denied a victory.
“I’m so glad. Every time he runs, he gets better and better. He’s a tough horse, a very special horse,” Saez said.
Saez, a two-time Championship Meet titlist who finished one win behind Irad Ortiz last season, is currently second behind the defending champion but is on course to become the only jockey to win 100 or more races four consecutive years.