Although trainer Shug McGaughey commented that “you can’t cry over spilled milk,” after his horse, Kentucky Derby Winner Orb came in third during a hotly contested finish in this year’s Traver’s Stakes, Eric Guillot has cried foul against the race’s winning jockey. Guillot, who trains Moreno has accused Jockey Luis Saez of hitting his horse Will Take Charge with an electric device called a battery during the backstretch run.
“To me the horse was dead in the water four jumps from the wire when he hit him with the machine he surged,” complained Guillot, who added that he found it “pretty suspicious why they had a jock change coming off a second place finish in the Jim Dandy,” referring to the fact that Will Take Charge’s trainer D. Wayne Lukas chose to replace regular rider Junior Alvarado with Saez at the last minute.
The allegation came as a shocking blow to Lukas’s sensational 3-year old season. Both he and Saez have denied any wrongdoing. The matter is now being investigated by the New York State Gaming Commission, with full cooperation by the NY Racing Association.
Although the race was touted to be a three way duel between Orb, Belmont Stakes Winner Palace Malice and Haskell Invitational champ Verrazano (the last two trained by Todd Pletcher), it was Moreno who set the pace for the entire race, with Will Take Charge stalking him at a close-up fifth place in midstretch, only to beat Moreno by a nose at the wire.
Will Take Charge’s victory was the third Traver’s win for the 77-year old Lukas (and his first since 1995), as well as the first Grade 1 win for the 21-year old Saez. A native of Panama, Luis Saez began riding in the US in 2009, amassing 937 wins to date, including 16 at Saratoga this summer. He is now 10th in jockey standings.
In the meantime, Lukas stated that “it sounds like Guillot is having trouble losing. While it bothers me for the industry, ut doesn’t bother me because the kid didn’t do anything wrong. I didn’t do anything wrong.”
Ironically, Guillot (who is known for his wild antics, including making a voodoo doll of trainer Todd Pletcher) was fined $500 by the Saratoga Stewards for using a mechanical massage blanket 24 hours before the start of the Bernard Baruch Handicap, and forced him to withdraw his horse Willyconker from the Grade 2 race.