By: Marisela Burgos
SHELBYVILLE, Ind. (Oct. 16, 2014)-- A jockey who was killed while racing was honored at Indiana Grand Racing and Casino Thursday.
Juan Saez, 17, was killed during the 8th race Tuesday night. The race is currently being reviewed. Preliminarily, track officials said Saez’s horse clipped the heels of the horse in front of him and it caused a chain reaction.
“I know that in my heart that he died chasing his dream,” Francisco Torres said.
Torres has been racing for 27 years. He said he met Saez two years ago. Saez is from Panama and moved to the states a few months ago. Since he has been in the states, he has won 89 races. People said they could tell he had potential and incredible talent.
“He was a natural. Everything came easily to him and horses ran for him,” Torres said.
This year, Saez was the leading apprentice rider at Indiana Grand Racing and Casino with 21 wins.
“This kid was just on the upswing and it’s just difficult to believe he was taken from us,” Torres said.
After Saez was killed races were cancelled until Thursday. Before Thursday’s races, they held a memorial and a moment of silence for Saez. Various track officials, friends, family members, and his jockey colony stood together honoring his memory and his career.
“I know that he’s watching and he’ll be missing it and we’ll be missing him,” Torres said.
Saez’s legacy will continue at Indiana Grand Racing and Casino, every year the leading apprentice rider will be given the Juan Saez Memorial Leading Apprentice Rider Award.