Trip Home For Gutierrez Exactly What He Needed

Stable Notes
Posted 05.20.12 at 1:41

Mario Gutierrez. © Benoit Photo

Mario Gutierrez’s fairytale journey that has carried him to within one victory of the Triple Crown almost never happened. The 25-year-old native of Veracruz, Mexico, who rode regularly at Hastings Park from 2006 -2011, was so homesick for Vancouver, British Columbia that he nearly left California despite having just won the Santa Anita Derby aboard I’ll Have Another.

When Troy Taylor, one of Hastings’ top trainers, brought a string down to Southern California last year, Gutierrez came along to ride first call. Though Taylor left a few horses behind, the trainer pulled up stakes in April and was heading back to his base for opening day at Hastings when the rider asked to join him.

Matt Jukich, Hastings intertrack television host who was on a busman’s holiday Friday at Betfair Hollywood Park, picks up the story. “He wanted to jump in the car with Troy,” said Jukich. “It was (prominent Canadian owner and longtime Gutierrez supporter) Glen Todd who convinced Gutierrez to stay and stick it out.

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Miller Off To A Fast Start, Best May Be Yet To Come

Stable Notes
Posted 05.17.12 at 2:49

Trainer Peter Miller

Peter Miller got out of the gate quickly at Betfair Hollywood Park. The 45-year-old conditioner started 16 horses in the first 12 days and recorded five wins, one second and one third, placing him second in the standings behind Bob Baffert. The trainer hopes to keep up the momentum with several of his stable stars returning in upcoming weeks.

Arguably the best horse in Miller’s barn is Reneesgotzip, winner of the Grade II Santa Ynez and beaten a nose in the Grade I Santa Anita Oaks last winter. The City Zip filly is 2-for-2 on Cushion Track, including an impressive allowance score May 4th. “She’s doing great,” said the trainer Thursday morning. “She’s leaving here on May 25th to run in the (Grade I) Acorn (May 28th at Belmont Park). Garrett Gomez will ride.”

Majestic City, 3-for-3 sprinting at Betfair Hollywood Park, including a victory in last July’s Hollywood Juvenile Championship, is getting close to a return. Also an offspring of City Zip, Majestic City has been idle since finishing 10th in the Grade I CashCall Futurity last Dec. 17.

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Cerin Gives Gutierrez A Comfortable Re-Entry To The Real World

Stable Notes
Posted 05.13.12 at 11:12

Trainer Vladimir Cerin. © Benoit Photo

When Mario Gutierrez got back to work Friday night at Betfair Hollywood Park, six days after piloting I’ll Have Another to an emotional victory in the Kentucky Derby, it was a familiar face who gave him a leg up.

Though Gutierrez was well known in Canada, it was Vladimir Cerin who helped put the 25-year-old jockey on the map in Southern California. Gutierrez rode 13 winners during the Santa Anita meeting and five of those were for Cerin. The five winners came from only 14 mounts and several produced large payoffs, including Sunland Vintage ($56.20), Bet On Victor ($42.60) and Takethemoneyandrun ($19.40).

“He’s such a great kid,” said a prideful Cerin. “So humble. When he won the Derby, that emotion was real. When I saw the tears streaming down his face after the race, I felt like crying myself.”

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Gutierrez Keeps Things In Perspective Following Kentucky Derby Victory

Stable Notes
Posted 05.10.12 at 3:21

Mario Gutierrez. © Benoit Photo

Thrust from relative anonymity to the national spotlight with a victory aboard I’ll Have Another in last Saturday’s Kentucky Derby, Mario Gutierrez has not only kept his ego in check, he’s thoroughly enjoying the whirlwind ride.

The 25-year-old learned to ride from his father, Mario Gutierrez, Sr., a quarter horse trainer, in Veracruz, Mexico. On a visiting Canadian trainer’s advice, the younger Gutierrez made his way to Hastings Park, where he started his career as an apprentice in 2006. He soon hooked up with one of Hastings’ premier trainers, Troy Taylor, and the pair enjoyed great success. When Taylor was ready to try Southern California, he invited Gutierrez along. Taylor returned to Canada this year but persuaded the rider to remain.

Through a series of “right place, right time” events, Gutierrez got to ride I’ll Have Another to victory in the Santa Anita Derby and despite pressure to get a more experienced pilot, owner J. Paul Reddam stuck with Gutierrez and was rewarded with a victory in the world’s most famous race.

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Team O’Neill On Cloud Nine After I’ll Have Another’s Derby Victory

Stable Notes
Posted 05.06.12 at 12:17

Trainer Doug O'Neill. © Benoit Photo

You could see his smile from the eighth pole to the wire. It was business as usual for Leandro Mora, Doug O’Neill’s assistant trainer, but Mora and everyone connected to Team O’Neill were still ecstatic the morning after I’ll Have Another’s brilliant victory in the Kentucky Derby.

“It was too bad I couldn’t go,” said Mora. “I was supposed to go yesterday, but I couldn’t because we had horses running here and we have to take care of business. But that’s alright, because it’s still the same great feeling. Doug called me after the Derby to give me some congrats. So now we’re just enjoying it. I spoke to the boys this morning and he looks fine. I guess they were worried about him getting too hot after the race. It took a long time with the ceremonies and things like that, but they gave him a bath right there on the track and everything was cool.”

I’ll Have Another, whose base of operations has been at Betfair Hollywood Park, is now the toast of California. “This is such a great little horse. He hasn’t done anything wrong for us. We’re going to leave a crew with him and he’s going to stay there. We took seven or eight other horses with him, but they’re coming back. We’ll probably give him a couple of days to settle down and relax and then go to Baltimore (Pimlico) right after that. The plans haven’t been finalized yet.

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Opinions Vary Greatly In A Wide Open Kentucky Derby

Stable Notes
Posted 05.03.12 at 2:58

As would be expected in another competitive Kentucky Derby, opinions on the backstretch are wide ranging. Here is a sampling:

CHANTAL SUTHERLAND (Jockey)—“I’ve been going back and forth between Union Rags and Bodemeister. Naturally, I’d love to see Bob Baffert win it (Bodemeister and Liaison), but Union Rags will be tough.”

JULIO CANANI (Trainer)—“Whoever (Calvin) Borel is riding (Take Charge Indy). All he does is win the Derby.”

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Acclamation Pronounced Fit; Could Run In Mervyn LeRoy

Stable Notes
Posted 04.29.12 at 12:57

Acclamation. © Benoit Photo

After a brief scare Thursday, Acclamation, the champion older male of 2011, was declared fit and ready by trainer Don Warren and could run in the $150,000 Mervyn LeRoy Handicap Saturday at Betfair Hollywood Park.

A Grade II at 1 1/16 miles on Cushion Track, the LeRoy is one of three stakes on a program that will also include the simulcast of the 138th Kentucky Derby from Churchill Downs.

According to Warren, Acclamation took “a few bad steps” Thursday in preparation for a start for Friday’s Inglewood Handicap. “We can’t take a chance with a horse like this,” Warren declared. “But the x-rays were clean, his legs were cold and he galloped perfect Saturday and Sunday.”

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Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol The Latest Thoroughbred Owners

Stable Notes
Posted 04.25.12 at 2:12

Trainer Doug O'Neill. © Benoit Photo

Social media sites were buzzing Wednesday night with the news that Los Angeles Laker stars Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol purchased their first Thoroughbred.

“How exciting is that?,” said an excited Doug O’Neill, who has trained Siempre Mio for all five of his starts and will continue to handle the 4-year-old gelding for the new partnership.

“Mark Verge donated a quarter of Siempre Mio to the Laker Foundation and he’s friends with Jeanie Buss, who invited us to the charity dinner. Pau Gasol bid first, but then he and Kobe got into a little bit of a bidding war. Kobe won the bidding at $8,000. Afterwards, Mark went up to Pau and asked him if he wanted to buy into the horse, too and pretty soon Mike Sullivan also ended up buying in. So they wound up raising $24,000 for the charity and we got some new people into the game. This should be a lot of fun.”

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