Bossier City, LA – While jockey Diego Saenz did not win the richest race of the Super Derby Day card Saturday at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs, he certainly had a highly rewarding afternoon.
The 38-year-old rider won three of the seven stakes on the program, with a close second-place finish in the $60,000 Unbridled.
Saenz won the first turf feature of the day, the $60,000 River Cities, guiding the heavily favored Quinta Verde (IRE) to victory for trainer Brad Cox. Saenz had never ridden the 5-year-old mare owned by Swift Thoroughbred Inc. before, but settled her comfortably behind the pacesetters. She unleashed her powerful closing kick at the eighth-pole and drew off by 3 ¼ lengths.
“Looking at the program, I thought I had some very good chances for the day,” said Saenz. “I was fortunate to be riding nice horses for top trainers.”
Next up was the $60,000 Sunday Silence for 2-year-olds and his second time to ride Jerry Durant’s Budro Talking, who was making his stakes debut for trainer Danny Pish.
The Louisiana-bred son of Tale of the Cat broke his maiden on July 27 at Evangeline Downs, sprinting on the main track. Pish felt that he could be versatile and compete well on turf, and he was certainly correct. With Saenz back in the irons, the bay colt sat off the early fractions of :24.17 and :48.71, drawing clear and crossing the one-mile finish line in 1:37.78.
“He’s getting better and better,” said Saenz. “He relaxed for me and that’s what it takes when a young horse is stretching out.”
Perhaps Saenz’ most impressive ride came in the in the $50,000 Tellike Stakes, when he rode
Curtis C. Green’s homebred Justa Lady for trainer Steve Asmussen. Again, Saenz had never ridden the 4-year-old filly by More Than Ready, but he was content to let longshot Our Valor set the pace. In sixth position approaching the far turn, he got his mount clear and she responded with a strong rally, drawing clear in the five-furlong turf sprint.
“I saw (Roberto) Morales get to the lead quickly, but felt he would not hold his speed,” he stated. “My filly had plenty left and came running.”
Saenz was hoping for a fourth stakes victory aboard the heavily favored Big Changes, also trained by Cox, in the Unbridled. Net Gain, an Iowa-bred 3-year-old made a sweeping move on the far turn under rider Glen Corbett. Saenz, who finished second, lodged an objection against Corbett for interference, but the stewards reviewed the replay and took no action.
“That’s part of racing,” said Saenz. “You state your case and have to accept the decision.”
Saenz, who was born in Chihuahua, Mexico, has been riding professionally since 2004 and is currently ranked 56th in Equibase North American jockey standings. He was won 1,746 wins from 9,218 starts in his 14-year career.
He and his wife have three children and reside in Carencro, a suburb of Lafayette, Louisiana. Saenz will head to Delta Downs, where he has won three leading rider titles.
Update on Super Derby Winner Mr. Misunderstood
Mr. Misunderstood, owned by Flurry Racing Stables LLC, scored a definitive victory in the season’s marquee race, the $200,000 Super Derby last Saturday.
The gelded son of Archarcharch, shipped here last month undefeated on the turf, and punched his ticket to the Super Derby with a win in the $60,000 Prelude. Then owner Staton Flurry, trainer Brad Cox and jockey Chris Rosier just had to wait to see who they would be running against in the Super Derby.
“We knew what we had in Mr. Misunderstood,” said Flurry. “After the noms for the Super Derby came out, it was just the anticipation of who would enter and what he would run against. It looked like Sonneteer was our biggest threat, but speed was really holding Saturday afternoon, so he was more forwardly placed that we expected.”
Nonetheless, Mr. Misunderstood prevailed as the favorite and a memorable post-race celebration ensued for Flurry, jockey Chris Rosier and Ricky Giannini, assistant to Cox.
“It was great,” said Flurry. “I love running at Louisiana Downs; my aunt and uncle live near Shreveport and there were lots of family and friends there to enjoy our win. My phone was turned off, but thirty minutes later, I checked and had over 150 texts and Facebook messages.”
Flurry, 27, resides in Hot Springs, Arkansas, and is passionate about every facet of racing, from studying sale catalogs, training progress of his horses, to evaluating race options. He signed a sale $130,000 sale ticket for Mr. Misunderstood at the Ocala Breeders’ Sale and admitted that there were some doubts about the Kentucky-bred in the early stages of his career.
“Let’s just say that we weren’t very high on the horse last year,” admitted Flurry. “He was always balanced, but didn’t show much in his morning works. Once we gelded him, he became more focused and found his way on the turf.”
Cox was pleased with the win and reported that Mr. Misunderstood returned safely to his base in Kentucky.
“He ran really well,” Cox told Mary Rampelinni of the Daily Racing Form. “Obviously, we’re super-pleased with the ride and where he was positioned early in the race with the lack of pace. He kicked on well. We’ll try to keep him with the 3-year-olds the rest of the year.”
Two More Stakes to Be Contested This Month at Louisiana Downs
The final two stakes of the season, the $75,000 A. L. (Red) Erwin and the $75,000 Elge Rasberry, will be run on Saturday, September 23. Both stakes are written for 3-year-old graduates of the Louisiana-bred Sale and will be run at the distance of one mile on the Franks Turf Course.
Louisiana Downs Trainer and Jockey Standings
Through September 12, last year’s leading trainer Joey Foster continues to hold a commanding lead over his fellow conditioners with 60 wins. H. B. Johnson is second with 23 wins to date and Ronnie Ward is in sole possession of third place with 16 wins. Sarah Delany follows in fourth; she has each saddled 15 winners.
Gerardo Mora has taken the lead in the jockey standings with 69 wins. Richard Eramia, who was on top for much of the season before he departed to ride at Remington Park, is second with 59 victories. Aubrie Green continues her strong showing and has moved into third with 58 trips to the winner’s circle. Jose Guerrero rounds out the top four with 47 wins.
Jorge Gomez and Red Rose Racing are tied at the top of the owner’s leaderboard with ten wins each. Patti Turner Jamie C. Pastor and Anthony Faulk have won nine races each in the 2017 Thoroughbred meet.
About Harrah’s Louisiana Downs
Located near Shreveport in Bossier City, Louisiana, Louisiana Downs opened in 1974 and was purchased by Caesars Entertainment in December, 2002. With annual Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing seasons, the track is committed to presenting the highest quality racing programs paired with its 150,000 square foot entertainment complex offering casino gambling, dining and plasma screen televisions for sports and simulcast racing.
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