ARCADIA, Calif. (Oct. 16, 2015)–Thrust into national prominence with victories in the 2012 Santa Anita Derby, Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes with J. Paul Reddam’s I’ll Have Another, jockey Mario Gutierrez had a string of “Another’s” on Friday at Santa Anita, as the 29-year-old native of Veracruz, Mexico won with all five of his mounts, accounting for five out of the first six races on an eight-race card.
With 4-year-old filly Light Striker up to win Friday’s sixth race by a nose, Gutierrez joined some very select company, including the likes of Rafael Bejarano, Bill Shoemaker, Laffit Pincay, Jr. and Johnny Longden among those elite jockeys who have won races in high multiples at The Great Race Place.
“It feels great,” said Gutierrez as he stepped off the scale adjacent to the Winner’s Circle. “I’ve had to rebuild my career from the ground up since I won the Kentucky Derby and it’s been a lot of hard work. It’s been one step at a time and my biggest step was marrying a very special woman in January. She’s (Rebecca) my biggest support system. I think that’s what did it. It makes me push hard.
“I’ve won five races before at Hastings (Racecourse, in Vancouver, B.C.) but never five out the first six races in a day. This is really, really great. .”
With the two-day Breeders’ Cup World Championships just two weeks away at Keeneland Oct. 30 and 31, Gutierrez could be in line for some additional national notice.
“I’m very excited for the Breeder’s Cup,” he said. “I have two good 2-year-olds (undefeated Nyquist in the Juvenile and Land Over Sea in the Juvenile Fillies, both owned and trained by the I’ll Have Another team of Reddam and Doug O’Neill) and I’m excited, those are exciting horses to ride. I’m looking forward to going there and riding well.”
“Super Mario” as Gutierrez was known during I’ll Have Another’s Triple Crown run, began the day in formful fashion, reporting home on top by 1 ½ lengths in race one with even money favorite Stealth Drone, who paid $4.20 to win. Gutierrez did not ride the second, but came back in the third aboard Reddam and O’Neill’s Frank Conversation. Off at 8-1, “Frank” won by 1 ¼ lengths and paid $19.60.
Gutierrez then won race 4 by 3 ½ lengths aboard Lily Pod, who was off at 9-5 and paid $5.80. Although he won the sixth race by just a nose, Gutierrez’s closest call came in race five, when he was moved up from second to first aboard Sleepwalker via a disqualification of the winner. Sleepwalker was off at 9-5 and paid $5.80 to win.
Gutierrez’s “five bagger” gave him 10 wins through 13 days at Santa Anita’s current Autumn meet, which puts him in second place in the rider standings, six shy of Rafael Bejarano.
Asked by TVG’s Britney Eurton how he intended to celebrate his big day, Gutierrez responded, “I’m going to go home, hold my wife and give her a lot of kisses.”