Luis Saez takes riding title with 122 winners at Gulfstream’s Championship Meet
Fresh off saddling White Abarrio for a victory in Saturday’s $1 million Curlin Florida Derby (G1) presented by Hill ‘n’ Dale at Xalapa, trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. was able to celebrate his first Championship Meet Title at Gulfstream Park Sunday.
Joseph closed out the 2021-2022 Championship Meet with 58 winners, 12 victories ahead of Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher, the defending 18-time titlist.
“Most definitely the Florida Derby was the icing on the cake. The Championship Meet title also means a lot. I grew up watching Todd my while life. He’s dominated for 18 years now. I’m 35 now. To take over from him after 18 years, I can’t put into words what it means,” Joseph said. “I would just watch Todd win and dominate. He’s a role model for any trainer who wants to look up to someone.”
Luis Saez reclaimed the Championship Meet riding title that had been held by Irad Ortiz Jr. for the past three years. Saez won back-to-back titles in 2016-2017 and 2017-2018.
Saez rode 122 during the 2021-2022 Championship Meet, 28 wins more than Tyler Gaffalione, whose winning mount aboard White Abarrio was one of five victories on Saturday’s card.
“It’s something very big for us. Florida is like home. It’s the first place we came to,” said the 29-year-old Panamanian. “The third time is very special to us.”
Gulfstream Park’s Spring/Summer Royal Palm Meet will get underway Thursday with an eight-race program with a 1:05 p.m. (ET) first-race post time.