Jockey Luis Saez, a recent addition to the New York riding colony, brought home five winners, including back-to-back dead heat victories, on Friday afternoon at Belmont Park.
Saez, 20, of Panama, began the day by piloting Copper Forest ($4.30) to dead-heat with Anaphylaxis in race 3, a one-mile optional claimer, and 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, both on the main track.
Saez made it three in a row in race 5 with a 3 ½-length score aboard Hardest Core ($13.80) in a 1 ¼-mile maiden race on the turf, and wrapped up the card by taking races 8 and 9, both 1 1/16-mile turf events, with North Slope ($15.60) and Here's D'Bride ($7.70), respectively.
Both Hardest Core and North Slope are trained by Kiaran McLaughlin.
“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 currently is tied in fifth place with Jose Lezcano in the Belmont spring/summer meet jockey standings with 23 winners, including victories in the Grade 2 Peter Pan with Belmont Stakes contender Freedom Child and the Grade 2 Sheepshead Bay with Tannery.
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