Kentucky Derby Winners
Published: May 20, 2012
Kentucky Derby Winners, Mario Gutierrez has been on the phone constantly since winning the Kentucky Derby aboard I’ll Have Another.Most of the messages are from friends and family, offering congratulations following the victory that lifted the jockey from Mexico out of obscurity.
Gutierrez, who developed his craft at Vancouver’s Hastings Racecourse before his breakout at Churchill Downs, is still waiting for the calls offering him more mounts.
That could change after Saturday, if I’ll Have Another wins the Preakness and moves into position for a run at the Triple Crown.
So far, the Derby victory hasn’t raised the soft-spoken rider’s profile. Gutierrez is still trying to crack the deep jockey colony in Southern California.
He got the Derby mount on a whim after making a favourable impression on owner Paul Reddam. Impressed by how Gutierrez rode a race at Santa Anita, Reddam decided to give the newcomer a chance.
“This is kind of a step out of the box,” Reddam said. “It’s one of those weird intuitions that you get. It’s amazing when it works out, which isn’t too often I suppose.”
The horse and rider tandem clicked immediately. They are unbeaten in the three races since teaming up, a string that includes the Santa Anita Derby.
That success hasn’t opened many doors for Gutierrez.
“I’m still not riding that many horses,” Gutierrez said. “Everybody knows that California racing has top trainers and top jockeys. I’m just glad to be riding with them. I am getting a lot of calls, but not to ride.”
Last weekend he had only four mounts at Hollywood Park.
A breakout is only a matter of time, said Doug O’Neill, I’ll Have Another’s trainer.
“Mario is the closest thing to Rafael Bejarano who many of you are familiar with,” O’Neill said. “He’s a finesse rider who is able to get the horse to drop the bit and relax. When he calls on them, they want to grab the bit and take off. Some guys have it and some don’t and Mario has it. And he’s such a confident, calm jockey. It won’t be long before his business picks up.” (Edmonton Journal)
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