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Mario Gutierrez

Jockey of I'll Have Another

By

Jockey Mario Gutierrez

Jockey Mario Gutierrez

© Cindy Pierson Dulay
Mario Gutierrez is the relatively unknown jockey thrust into the national spotlight as the regular rider of I'll Have Another. Gutierrez was born on September 19, 1986, in Veracruz, Mexico, and as a child rode horses on the farm where his father continues to work. As a teenager he rode in match races in Veracruz. Turning professional he moved north in 2005 and set up shop at Hastings Park in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. He rode first call for trainer Troy Taylor, the leading trainer at Hastings over the last five years, and was Canada's leading apprentice rider. Gutierrez has been the leading rider at the Vancouver track twice since he arrived. He and Taylor would race at Golden Gate Fields and occasionally Santa Anita during the winter months when Hastings was closed.

Sadly, the 2012 season may be the last at Hastings Park as the track's owners did not renew their lease with the City of Vancouver which owns the Pacific National Exhibition fairgrounds on which the track sits. However, Gutierrez's success has given its regulars something to celebrate. A crowd of 10,000 was on hand at Hastings, some wearing "Go Mario Go" shirts in the Reddam colors, to watch their adopted son win the Preakness and erupted when I'll Have Another defeated Bodemeister again. Glen Todd, a local owner who Gutierrez rides for frequently, said, “It’s unbelievable. You can’t believe it. It’s like Mario said, ‘If this is a dream, don’t wake me up. But I had faith. Everything is falling into place. It’s like you know the result before it happens. He’s going to win the Triple Crown. I know it. It’s a fairy-tale story, but it’s real. Why shouldn’t it go on? He has the horse. And the best part about this? It won’t change Mario. He’ll be able to drive a more expensive car, but he won’t change."

J. Paul Reddam and Doug O'Neill watched Gutierrez win a race at Santa Anita and were impressed with his skill. Reddam suggested they give him a chance to ride, and the rest is history. They put him aboard I'll Have Another for the Robert Lewis and he did not disappoint. Asked about reaching the Kentucky Derby at the age of 25, Gutierrez said, "Like all jockeys I've been hoping for that. But I didn't put any age on it. If you have a dream and you follow it and you work hard, sometimes you need a little luck and a little push."

On to owner Paul Reddam and trainer Doug O'Neill, or back to I'll Have Another.

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