Luis Saez, a two-time Championship Meet titlist who began his U.S. career in South Florida, rode the winners of six races on Saturday’s 11-race program at Gulfstream Park.
The 28-year-old native of Panama rode the winners of five of the nine Claiming Crown stakes, including $150,000 Jewel victor Jesus’ Team. Saez won seven races in a day twice during the 2017-18 Championship Meet.
“It’s been great a great day. I’m so blessed to be here. This is one of my favorite places,” Saez said. “This is like home. I’m happy to be here.”
Saez began his big day with a win aboard Fighting Force ($5.80) in Race 3, a mile maiden special weight race for 2-year-olds on turf. After a popular victory aboard Jesus’ Team ($2.80) to kick off the Claiming Crown portion of Saturday’s card, Saez returned to the Gulfstream winner’s circle with Jakarta ($3.60), winner of the $90,000 Distaff Dash; Queens Embrace ($6.60), who captured the $95,000 Tiara; Fiya ($3), who romped to victory in the $90,000 Canterbury; and Frost or Frippery ($8), who closed out the Claiming Crown action with a narrow score in the $75,000 Iron Horse.
Saez won back-to-back Championship Meet titles in 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 before finishing second behind Irad Ortiz Jr. the past two seasons.
“We came here to work hard and see what happens,” Saez said. “We’ll stay focused and working hard.”
Record $14.6 Million Total Handle on Claiming Crown Program
Total handle for Saturday’s Claiming Crown program was $14.6 million, breaking the previous Claiming Crown mark set last year of $13.9 million.
Total handle on the Claiming Crown program has increased each year since Gulfstream began playing host to the event in 2012.
Sunday’s Rainbow 6 Jackpot Pool Guaranteed at $325,000
The 20-cent Rainbow 6 jackpot pool will be guaranteed at $325,000 Sunday at Gulfstream Park.
The popular multi-race wager went unsolved for the fourth day of the Championship Meet Saturday, when the six-race sequence included six Claiming Crown stakes. Multiple tickets with all six winners were each worth $2,737.44.
The jackpot pool is only paid out when there is a single unique ticket sold with all six winners. On days when there is no unique ticket, 70 percent of that day’s pool goes back to those bettors holding tickets with the most winners, while 30 percent is carried over to the jackpot pool.
Sunday’s Rainbow 6 sequence will span Races 5-10, including back-to-back optional claiming allowances in Races 7 and 8.
Race 7, a six-furlong sprint for 2-year-old fillies, brings together five last-out winners. Saffie Joseph Jr.-trained Glitter Bay, who broke through with a 12 ½-length maiden score while equipped with blinkers for the first time, is rated as the 2-1 morning-line favorite.
In Race 8, a mile turf race for fillies and mares Graham Motion-trained All Come True has been rated as the 5-2 morning-line favorite. The French-bred 3-year-old filly is scheduled to make her U.S. debut and first start since winning her debut at Chantilly last year.