Fresh off saddle White Abarrio for victory in Saturday’s $1 million Curlin Florida Derby (G1) presented by Hill ‘n’ Dale in Xalapa, trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. was able to celebrate his first championship title at Gulfstream Park on Sunday.
Joseph closed the 2021-22 Championship encounter with 58 winners, 12 wins ahead of 18-time Hall of Fame coach Todd Pletcher.
“Most definitely the Florida Derby was the icing on the cake. The Championship Meet title also means a lot. I grew up watching Todd all my life. He has dominated for 18 years now. I am 35 now. Succeeding him after 18 years, I can’t put into words what that means,” Joseph said. “I would just watch Todd win and dominate. He’s a role model for any coach who wants to look up to someone.
Luis Saez reclaimed the Championship Meet riding title held by Irad Ortiz Jr. for the past three years. Saez won back-to-back titles in 2016-17 and 2017-18.
Saez rode 122 in the 2021-22 Championship encounter, 28 more wins than Tyler Gaffalione, whose winning mount aboard White Abarrio was one of five wins on Saturday’s card.
“It’s something very important for us. Florida feels like home. This is the first place we came to,” said the 29-year-old Panamanian. “The third time is very special for us.”
The Gulfstream Park Spring/Summer Royal Palm Meet kicks off Thursday with an eight-race schedule with a start time of 1:05 p.m. (ET).