Jockey Luis Saez, a recent addition to the New York riding colony, brought home five winners, including back-to-back dead-heat victories, May 31 at Belmont Park.
The 21-year-old rider from Panama began the day by piloting Copper Forest ($4.30) to dead-heat with Anaphylaxis in race 3, a one-mile allowance/optional claimer (VIDEO). Saez came right back to guide late-running Smash ($5.20) to hit the wire in tandem with Leave of Absence in race 4, a six-furlong optional claimer (VIDEO). Both races were on on the main track.
Saez made it three in a row in race 5 with a 3 1/2-length score aboard Hardest Core ($13.80) in a 1 1/4-mile maiden special weight race on the turf (VIDEO). He later wrapped up the card by taking races 8 and 9, both 1 1/16-mile turf events, with North Slope ($15.60) (VIDEO) and Here's D'Bride ($7.70) (VIDEO), respectively.
"I'm so exited," said Saez, who moved his tack from Florida to New York in April. "Thanks to God, the trainers, and my agent (Richard DePass). Today, the horses ran good for me. It's a little hard here in New York, but, thank God, we're doing great here. Trainers have given me opportunities, so I have to ride hard."
Saez fell one short of equaling his personal best set last year at Calder Casino & Race Course. The New York record for wins on a single card is six.
Both Hardest Core and North Slope are trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, who won three on the day. The victory aboard North Slope inthe $77,000 allowance feature for 3-year-olds was never in doubt. The colt beat Mills by 3 1/4 lengths for his second win in five starts. The time was 1:40.27 for the 1 1/16 miles on the firm course.
Saez currently is tied in fifth place with Jose Lezcano in the Belmont spring/summer meet jockey standings with 23 winners. Included are victories in the Peter Pan (gr. II) with Belmont Stakes (gr. I) contender Freedom Child and the Sheepshead Bay (gr. IIT) with Tannery.
Saez ranked fifth nationally in wins last year with 281. Through May 31, he has 903 lifetime victories in North America during a career that began in 2009, according to Equibase.