Luis Saez earned his first riding title at the famed Saratoga Race Course, tallying 64 wins for the 40-day summer meet that concluded on Labor Day, Sept. 6. Chad Brown paced all trainers with 41 wins and Klaravich Stables repeated as the top owner, compiling 21 victories.
Saez won the Angel Cordero Jr. title by posting a 64-45-39 record in 336 mounts, amassing earnings of $6.2 million. The native of Panama City, Panama garnered his first riding title on a NYRA circuit.
The 29-year-old Saez finished eight wins clear of three-time Eclipse Award-winning jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr., whose 56 wins were good for second. Jose Ortiz was third with 51 wins while Joel Rosario was fourth (43).
Saez extended his run of success aboard reigning champion juvenile male Essential Quality by piloting him to victory twice during the Saratoga meet, winning the Grade 2 Jim Dandy in a prep for his eventual victory in the Grade 1 Runhappy Travers. Saez, who won his first Classic when leading Essential Quality to glory in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes in June, has helped put his charge in position to win another Eclipse Award as Essential Quality sits as the current top contender for 3-Year-Old Male. The Travers win was the second for Saez, who got his picture taken aboard Will Take Charge in 2013.
“This is a tough spot, so winning this title is everything,” Saez said. “To win the Travers; racing at NYRA is the biggest deal right now, and we’re so blessed to be here. It means a lot.”
The Saratoga meet also saw Saez earn graded wins aboard Bella Sofia in the Grade 1 Test and on Cross Border in the Grade 2 Bowling Green, along with Grade 3 scores in the Forbidden Apple with Rinaldi and the Schuylerville with Pretty Birdie.
“You see how tough it is to win a race here. To win 64 races here, it’s wonderful,” Saez said. “I’m so thankful to the trainers and thanks to (agent) Kiaran (McLaughlin), who did a great job. Nothing is impossible. We came here and were patient and rode our horses to win, and we did it. We’re so happy to be here.”
Saez said he’s hopeful his good stretch could put him in contention for his first Eclipse Award.
“That’s my biggest dream, so let’s keep going and see what happens,” Saez said.
Brown registered his fourth H. Allen Jerkens award as top trainer and his third in the last four meets after previously finishing as the leading conditioner in 2016 and 2018-19.
Brown, who set a meet record for conditioners with 46 wins in 2018, edged 14-time Saratoga leading trainer – and 2021 Hall of Fame inductee –Todd Pletcher (31 wins) and third-place finisher Mike Maker (25).
The Mechanicville, New York native posted five graded stakes wins, compiling a record of 41-34-24 with 176 starters and earnings of more than $4.5 million. Among the highlights was Technical Analysis winning both the Grade 3 Lake George and the Grade 2 Lake Placid, with Viadera capturing the Grade 2 Ballston Spa and Public Sector winning the Grade 2 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame and Grade 3 Saranac. Royal Flag also earned a victory in the Grade 3 Shuvee.
“It’s really been one of the most gratifying meets we’ve had given the fact that we started out really slow with a lot of seconds and a ton of rain,” Brown said. “For the horses and my team to persevere and battle back has just made it such a gratifying meet. Credit, first and foremost, my team, to focus in on their individual tasks, execute our plan and take it one day at a time. We’ve turned the meet around and had a remarkable run the last fourteen days.”
Combined, Brown and Pletcher have won every Saratoga training title since 2010.
“Obviously it was great to see and for me, I have a better appreciation for it. I don’t take anything for granted,” said Brown of his continued success at his hometown track following a 2020 when spectators were not permitted on site at Saratoga due to COVID-19 concerns. “After a year with nobody here, you do gain a greater appreciation of having the freedom to come to the track and interact with people. I always have been one to try and stop and talk to people whether it’s for a picture or to sign something, or just to chat. You stop a little bit more when you realize people really wanted to be here. They don’t have to be here, but they are here because they want to be. I’ve had a great time catching up with people I hadn’t seen and also meeting a lot of new people every week.”
Klaravich Stables was the leading Saratoga owner for the fourth consecutive meet, extending a run that started in 2018. Headed by Seth Klarman, the ownership entity finished eight wins ahead of runner-up Michael Dubb’s 13 victories. Three Diamonds Farm was third (10 wins) and Repole Stable (nine) was fourth. Klaravich Stables was one win shy of the Saratoga single-meet owner record of 22 wins set by Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey in 2013.
For the meet, Klaravich Stables posted a 21-8-12 record with 65 starters, tallying earnings of $1.54 million.
The Belmont Park fall meet, which will run from Thursday, Sept. 16 through Sunday, Oct. 31, will include five Grade 1 races and five “Win and You’re In” qualifiers to the Breeders’ Cup in November at Del Mar.