Luis Saez, Maximum Security’s Jockey: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Luis Saez

Luis Saez is the jockey for Maximum Security, a horse owned by billionaire philanthropist Gary West. Maximum Security won the Derby by a significant margin on May 4, 2019, before being disqualified after an objection was raised by Country House.

Saez is a 27-year-old jockey with over 2,000 wins and $101 in purse earnings racked up during his decade-long career. To The Morning Callhe said that he knew Maximum Security was the “perfect horse” to win the Kentucky Derby after he won the Florida Derby with the horse earlier this year.

He said, “When he won that race, how he moved, how much horse I got (left), he’s the perfect horse to win the Kentucky Derby. I think we’ve got a good shot.”

Here’s what you need to know about Luis Saez:

1. Saez Is Orginally From Panama; He Came to the U.S. at 16 Years Old

Luis Saez

According to The Morning Call, Saez grew up on a farm in Panama; one of his chores on the farm was breaking horses. Saez decided to commute to jockey school in Panama city early on. Per the publication, he lived a three-hour away, and had to travel two hours on a boat then take another car ride of at least an hour.

Saez said of the commute, “Sometimes we’d stop on the little islands and get coconuts or do some fishing. We’d catch red snapper and corvina. It’s so beautiful.”

The jockey came to the U.S. at age 16 for his first work visa to ride horses, and has never looked back. Saez posted an apparent video from his wedding to his YouTube in 2015; however, the name of his wife is unknown.

2. Saez Has Over 2,000 Wins to His Name

Luis Saez Rides His 2,000th WinnerThis video is about Luis Saez Rides His 2,000th Winner2018-11-10T19:49:41.000Z

Saez has had an extremely successful riding career. At 27 years old, he has over 2,000 wins to his name. Per his profile on Equibase,  Saez boasts career purse earnings of $101 million as of 2019; he began racing in 2009. As of 2018, he was ranked 9th in the world by wins, and 8th by earnings.

Per Equibase, Saez has 12,564 starts to his name; he has 2,162 career wins, as of May 4, 2019. 2018 was his highest earning year so far, with just over $17 million in purse earnings; in 2019 so far, he’s earned just under $6 million in purse earnings.

The profile of Saez in America’s Best Racing reads in part,

A native of Panama City, Saez started out at Calder Race Track as his home base after moving to the states in 2009 and won four straight riding titles there. He has subsequently won multiple riding titles at Gulfstream Park.


Saez enjoyed a terrific year in 2018 with a career-best $17 million in purse earnings and three Grade 1 wins, including the Arkansas Derby with Magnum Moon. Saez also finished second on Bravazo in the 2018 Preakness Stakes. His 245 victories ranked ninth in the United States and he posted his 2,000th career win aboard Y’allcomenow at Aqueduct Nov. 9.

3. Saez Boasts $101 Million in Purse Earnings Over His Ten-Year Career

Saez has earned over $101 million in purse earnings throughout the decade that he’s been riding as a professional jockey.

To be clear, Saez earns a fraction of the purse earnings that he wins. According to CNBC, jockeys can earn varying percentages of purse earnings, depending on their contracts and on the specific event. For example, the winning jockey at the Derby earns 10% of the purse, which is $3 million. That means Saez personally will earn $300,000 for himself. The rest will go to a number of individuals, primarily the owner of the horse.

But even the money that the jockey does make for him or herself isn’t just for them: the jockey must then pay his or her agent, and then his or her valet (the valet is the person in charge of getting the jockey’s gear in place). In short, Saez’s own earnings are a much, much smaller percentage of the $101 purse earnings he’s won.

4. Saez Wasn’t Originally Supposed to Ride Maximum Security at the Derby

Irad Ortiz Jr. was the jockey originally paired with Maximum Security, according to The Morning Call; however, Ortiz decided to ride another horse, Bourbon War, for the Florida Derby earlier this year. Servis called Saez to see if he could do the job, and he could; Saez and Maximum Security won the Florida Derby, and Saez earned his spot as the horse’s jockey for the Kentucky Derby.

To the publication, Saez said, “Thank God, Jason [Servis] had the open mount.”

5. Maximum Security’s Story Has Been Described as Worthy of a Screenplay

April 7, 2019Florida Derby 2019 luis saez2019-04-07T22:53:16.000Z

Maximum Security, who is favored to win the Kentucky Derby in a number of rankings, began his unlikely career with a a $16,000 sprint in December. The horse’s improbable rise to the highest level of competition in horse racing is only part of his enthralling story.

Servis has been with the horse for his entire career, however short. In fact, he was the one who entered him in the $16,000 claimer last December, and admitted he didn’t know how well the horse would end up doing. Per The Lexington Herald Leader, Servis said, “When I put him in, I thought he’d win. I wasn’t expecting a gallop like that. I thought he’d win a maiden $16,000, but I didn’t think he’d win by 10.”

Per The San Francisco ChronicleServis has given Maximum Security an “unprecedented” training style, training the horse with longer gallops instead of sprint workouts of four to six furlongs. He said per the publication,

“I think it was after his second race that I took him off the rail, so to speak, and started doing the open miles. It’s just a maintaining thing, trying to avoid injuries that would set us back. Maybe in a fast breeze there is more risk than what I’m doing. If he gets beat in the Derby, it won’t be because he’s not fit.”

As for West, he’s described Maximum Security as “an enigma.” West added to The Morning Call, “This is the kind of thing that novels are made of. I couldn’t have written the script for what’s happened.”

READ NEXT: Maximum Security: Who Are the Owners, Jockey, and Trainer?

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