Jockey Mario Gutiérrez Preparing for a Triple Crown Win at Belmont Park • Latino Sports

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Jockey Mario Gutiérrez Preparing for a Triple Crown Win at Belmont Park

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Jockey Mario Gutiérrez is preparing to become the 11th jockey to win thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown. If the 25 year old, Mexican born rider and his thoroughbred partner, three year old I’ll Have Another, are victorious at Belmont Park on June 9, they will be the first winners of the Triple Crown since 1978 when Affirmed and Steve Cauthen won the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes.

The jockey, although young in years, has had a lengthy journey before reaching racing stardom in the past few months. The second generation jockey was born to a poor family in Veracruz, Mexico in 1987. He began riding quarter horses in his native city as a teenager. He moved to riding thoroughbreds in Mexico City, but left the country in 2006 for Canada in order to earn a better living.

He settled in Vancouver, the western part of the nation, and rode at Hastings Park. Beginning as an apprentice jockey, his success quickly moved him to the top of the jockey standings at that track.

Gutiérrez spoke with great affection for the people and the area at a media conference call on Wednesday, “Because of Vancouver, I was able to give my family in Mexico a better life…I do love Vancouver. I do think of Vancouver as my second home.”

The success of the young rider in Canada afforded him the opportunity of riding in California. By being in the right place at the right time, Gutiérrez was noticed by J. Paul Reddan, the owner of I’ll Have Another and the horse’s trainer, Doug O’Neill, at the start of 2012, when they were looking for a new rider for their thoroughbred.

Gutiérrez recounted his initial impression of the thoroughbred with obvious affection and respect, “From the first time I met him, I knew he was the one. I knew he was definitely better than any other horse I had ridden in the past.” He then recounted the superior attributes he saw in his new partner.

He expressed his sincere feelings of gratitude to the owner and trainer for giving him an opportunity to ride I’ll Have Another, “They’re on my side. They have given me a lot of confidence.”

Since February, the horse and rider have been successful at tracks throughout the nation. They won the Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita on February 4, the first leg of the Triple Crown, The Kentucky Derby, at Churchill Downs on April 7 and the Preakness Stakes on May 5 at Pimlico.

Hall of Fame jockey, Mike Smith, who finished second on Bodemeister in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, gave an extremely favorable assessment of Gutiérrez’s character, “[He is] one of the nicest kids you will ever meet. He is the kind to root for. When I realized that he was going to beat me, I was hoping no one would pass him. He’s that kind of guy. He is a genuine, nice, good person.”

With Bodemeiaster not running at Belmont, I’ll Have Another should go off the prohibitive favorite in the Belmont Stakes. Whether the horse will become the 12th and the jockey the 11th (Eddie Arcaro was a two-time Triple Crown winner) to accomplish this rare feat will be known on Saturday afternoon, June 9.

About Howard Goldin

Howard Goldin is a 72-year-old Bronx native whose passion for sports is evidenced by his 15 years of sports writing with Latino Sports. A former English instructor at Monroe College, his love for sports started with baseball and have expanded since. If there’s a sport or a community event, Howard will be in attendance covering it.

  • Rose1

    Very interesting article. I bet a lot of people don’t know Mario Gutiérrez and how awesome he is.

  • Josesena1993

    Great article man i didn’t know who he was now i know.