Jockey Gabriel Saez achieved a milestone Feb. 4 when the newly turned 29-year-old native of Panama City, Panama earned his 1,000th career victory on I Hope in the eighth race at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.
A graduate of the Laffit Pincay Jockey Training Academy in his native country, Saez began riding professionally on Dec. 8, 2006 in Panama, and won his first race there on Jan. 8, 2007. He came to the United States that year, joining the jockey colony at Delaware Park and going on to ride regularly for major supporter and multiple grade 1-winning trainer Larry Jones.
Saez’s top mounts include champions Proud Spell, Havre de Grace, and Kodiak Kowboy, as well as grade 1 winners Summer Soiree and Believe You Can, and multiple graded stakes winners Friesan Fire and Just Jenda. He considers his most talented partner thus far to have been Fox Hill Farm’s Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1) runner-up, the great filly Eight Belles. So far he has won 22 graded stakes, three grade 1s, and more than $34.2 million in purses.
“It feels great. I’m glad I got it done down here at Fair Grounds, basically where everything started for my career,” Saez said. “I’m glad to be back at Fair Grounds and back in New Orleans, and there can’t be a better place to have a 1,000th winner than here.”