On a day where Gulfstream Park set a handle record for its Claiming Crown series of races, two-time Gulfstream Park riding champion Luis Saez captured six of the track’s 11 races on Saturday.

Luis Saez-Six Winners
Luis Saez won six races in a day for the second time at Gulfstream Park. He won five of the nine Claiming Crown races. (Image: Coady Photography/Churchill Downs)

Saez, who won the Gulfstream Park riding titles in 2016-17 and 2017-18, won five of the nine Claiming Crown stakes races, including the $150,000 Jewel Stakes aboard 2/5 favorite, Jesus’ Team.

“I’m so blessed to be here. This is one of my favorite places,” he told Gulfstream Park. “This is like home. I’m happy to be here.”

That’s understandable, considering this is where the 28-year-old Panamanian began his US riding career. What’s more amazing is this wasn’t even Saez’s best day at Gulfstream. He won seven races in a day twice during the 2017-18 Championship Meet. Last year, he finished second to Irad Ortiz Jr. for the track’s riding title – by two victories.

The year before, Ortiz beat him by one.

Jesus’ Team Gave Saez a Memorable Victory

Saez opened his Saturday account in the third race, winning the mile maiden special weight for juveniles aboard Fighting Force. That paid $5.80 for a $2 bet.

His biggest win came aboard Jesus’ Team ($2.80) in the crown jewel of the Claiming Crown races – the Jewel. That race was designed for horses 3-years-old and up who started at least one race for a claiming price of $35,000 or lower. It’s hard to comprehend a horse who finished third in the Preakness Stakes and second to Knicks Go in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile – albeit at 63/1 — slumming in such company. But Jesus’ Team started his career there.

He won a March maiden claiming race on his fifth try, then beat claimers again in May. That was Jesus’ Team’s last victory before Saturday.

Saez’s Highest Odds Horse Went Off at 3/1

From there, Saez piloted Jakara ($3.60) to the $90,000 Distaff Dash title. He followed with Queens Embrace ($6.60) in the $95,000 Tiara Stakes, then took Fyia ($3) to the winner’s circle of the $90,000 Canterbury. Saez wrapped up his memorable day riding Frost or Frippery ($8) to the $75,000 Iron Horse title.

While Saez was rolling on the track, Gulfstream Park was rolling to a record $14.6 million total handle. That bettered the previous mark of $13.9 million set last year. The track’s Claiming Crown program – designed to honor horses who climbed out of the claiming ranks – increased its total handle every year since the card’s beginning in 2012.

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