Eight Belles Jockey Defends His Ride

He says the filly gave no sign she was injured during race
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 7, 2008 7:23 PM CDT
Track personnel try to hold down Eight Belles as jockey Gabriel Saez walks past after the 134th Kentucky Derby Saturday, May 3, 2008, at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.    (AP Photo/Brian Bohannon)
camera-icon View 2 more images

(Newser) – The jockey who rode Eight Belles in the Kentucky Derby says the filly seemed to be in fine form during the race and denies pushing her against her will, USA Today reports. "I'm not going to encourage her to run if I know something is wrong because I can end up dead," said Gabriel Saez, 20. The horse's trainer has noted that the filly's ears were up at the finish line, a sign it was "perfectly happy."

Saez objected to PETA's demand that he be suspended for using his whip excessively down the stretch. "I respect that they love animals so much because I do, too," said the native of Panama. "At the same time, it bothers me because they are talking about something they have no clue about." (Read more Eight Belles stories.)