September 21, 2020

Apprentice jockey Saez dies following Indiana Grand accident

Last updated: 10/15/14 5:13 PM

Apprentice jockey Saez dies following Indiana Grand

Juan Saez’s tragically brief career included a riding title at Ellis Park

(Coady Photography)

Apprentice jockey Juan Saez, 17, died late Tuesday night in an Indianapolis
hospital due to injuries sustained in a spill at Indiana Grand earlier in the

Montezuma Express, ridden by Saez, clipped heels with the horse in front of
him, Paddy’s Notes. As a result of the contact in the turn of the six-furlong
race, Montezuma Express fell, causing Saez to be unseated. A trailing horse,
Masaru ridden by Ricardo Santana Jr., was unable to avoid the fallen horse and
also fell, unseating Santana.

Saez, a native of Panama and younger brother of jockey Luis Saez, was
airlifted from the scene by Life Flight and transported to Methodist Hospital in
Indianapolis where he later died from severe head trauma. Masaru was euthanized
as a result of the incident. No other riders were transported to the hospital.

Indiana Grand canceled the final race on Tuesday’s program and all of
Wednesday’s card in the wake of the accident.

“Our hearts and prayers are with Juan’s family and friends today,” said Jon
Schuster, Indiana Grand’s vice president and general manager of racing. “To have
an up-and-coming star in the sport of horse racing taken from us so young is a

“His passion for horse racing was immense and only surpassed by his
good-natured outlook on life.”

Members of Keeneland’s jockey colony gathered in the winner’s
circle for a tribute to Juan Saez

(Keeneland/Coady Photography)

Saez was a graduate of the Laffit Pincay riding school in Panama City. He won
89 races from 440 mounts and had been the leading rider at the Ellis Park meet
this summer with 51 wins.

“Juan was such a talented and sweet kid, with a promising future,” said
jockey John Velazquez, chairman of the Jockeys’ Guild. “It is like losing a
member of the family. We are competing against one another on the track, but off
the track, we are all very close.”

Saez is the first jockey killed in action in the U.S. since July 2012 when an
accident at Pleasanton in California claimed the life of Jorge Harrera.
According to the Jockeys’ Guild, Saez is believed to be the 153rd jockey to lose
his life at a North American racetrack since 1940.

Keeneland held a moment of silence Wednesday after its third race to remember
Saez, who rode his first winner at Keeneland on October 9 and recorded two
victories from 26 starts during the fall meet.

A public memorial honoring the life and career of Juan Saez will be held on
Thursday at Indiana Grand.

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