By Gulfstream Park/David Joseph
USA: Fresh off a victory in the richest race in racing history, jockey Luis Saez returned to his South Florida roots on Wednesday – and he will soon have a surprise name as his new agent in the shape of Godolphin trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, who is to give up his training operation.
After riding Maximum Security to an historic triumph in the $20 million Saudi Cup in Saudi Arabia, it was business as usual for Saez, who accepted seven mounts on Wednesday’s card at Gulfstream Park.
“It was amazing, but I’m so glad to come back and be here,” the 27-year-old Panama native, who began riding in South Florida in 2009 and enjoyed immediate success.
Saez has enjoyed a long and successful association with agent Richard DePass while amassing 2,362 wins and more than $116m in purses.
But now he will join forces with Kiaran McLaughlin, who has made the decision to step away from a highly successful training career to become his new agent upon the conclusion of the current Gulfstream championship meet.
“He [DePass] told me he wanted to retire,” explained Saez. “We sat at the table, me, him and Kiaran, and we made the decision. I’m going to miss him a lot.”
McLaughlin, 59, is best known as the trainer of world champion Invasor, winner of both the Breeders’ Cup Classic and Dubai World Cup in the colours of Sheikh Hamdan’s Shadwell operation, the trainer’s major patron for more than 26 years. He has also been Godolphin’s senior US trainer for some years, having been UAE champion trainer during a stint in Dubai before he returned to the States.
He saddled Key Of Luck to a runaway 20-length victory over Cezanne in the first Dubai Duty Free (now Turf) on the inaugural World Cup card in 1996; he also won the Belmont Stakes with Jazil in 2006.
McLaughlin and Saez have enjoyed a successful trainer-jockey association over the years. “I’m so glad, because Kiaran is a man I respect,” said the rider. “He has treated me so good and given me so much support. Having him as an agent is very special.”
Trainer Jason Servis provided Saez with the mount-of-a-lifetime in Maximum Security, who closed resolutely to pass pacesetter Mucho Gusto in deep stretch and holding off Midnight Bisou by a half-length in the Saudi Cup.
“It was something special for me, all the connections, my family, everybody,” Saez said. “He was coming. The horse on the lead [pacesetter Mucho Gusto] was running too. For a second, I didn’t know if we could beat him, but in the last jumps, we got there.
“I’m so glad. Every time he runs, he gets better and better. He’s a tough horse, a very special horse.”
Saez, twice leading rider at Gulfstream’s championship meet, finished one win behind Irad Ortiz last season. He is currently second behind the defending champion but is on course to become the only jockey to win 100 or more races for four consecutive years.
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