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.”
In his first post-Derby ride, Gutierrez received a nice round of applause in the post parade, waived to the crowd, then went about his business and took Blake gate-to-wire for a $7.20 victory.
“I just gave him one instruction,” said Cerin. I told him to make the lead at all costs. We thought this was going to be a good horse, and he is, just not at the level we thought.”
Incidentally, the victory was especially satisfying for Cerin, as Blake is named for the trainer’s 19-year-old son.
TALENTED TRIO SET FOR SATURDAY’S MARJORIE L. EVERETT HANDICAP
Include Me Out, Zazu and Ellafitz have completed their major preparations and are set to collide in Saturday’s $150,000 Marjorie L. Everett Handicap, formerly the Milady Handicap. The race honors Mrs. Everett, the former longtime chairwoman, chief operating officer and president at Hollywood Park.
Include Me Out, who has developed into one of the nation’s top distaffers for Ron Ellis, has been rested since a victory in the Grade I Santa Margarita March 17th. Regular rider Joe Talamo has the call for the Jay Em Ess Stable colorbearer.
Zazu, winner of the Grade II Hollywood Oaks last summer at Betfair Hollywood Park, has not seen action since winning the Grade I Lady’s Secret last October. The grey daughter of Tapit has a solid foundation of works for John Sadler. With Joel Rosario out of town for the Preakness, Garrett Gomez picks up the mount.
Ellafitz, a distant fourth to Include Me Out as the odds-on favorite in the Santa Margarita, will try to rebound as she’s reunited with Rafael Bejarano. The Tiznow mare, who captured the Grade II Bayakoa Handicap over Cushion Track in December, worked six furlongs in 1:11 last Friday at Santa Anita.
Graham Motion said by telephone Sunday morning that his pair of Everett nominees, Aruna and Pachattack, were doubtful for the race, but added that Aruna is “50-50” to ship west for the Gamely Stakes at 1 1-8 miles on turf May 28th. “It will be either the Gamely or the Sheepshead Bay in New York. The fact that the Gamely is a Grade I is appealing,” said the trainer of 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom.
Graham added, “I would have loved to run Pachattack in the Everett, but the timing isn’t right. It would be coming back a little too quick for her.” Pachattack won the Grade III Lyons Doubledogdare Stakes April 20th at Keeneland.
CLOSING STRIDES—Barry Abrams, 58, received good news from the doctor recently regarding his bi-yearly cancer screening. “Everything looks good and I don’t have to go back until October. I’ve got other problems, but the cancer’s gone,” joked the conditioner. Abrams underwent throat surgery last year and also in 2005……..Unbeaten Ismene, winner of the California Breeders’ Champion Stakes (Filly Division) in December, took her first step toward a comeback with a three furlong drill in :37 3/5 Friday. “She had a little chip in her knee and we took it out,” said trainer Bill Spawr. “We never had to turn her out. She’s doing great and should be back in about two months. She might make a race here.”…….Can’t keep a good man down department— Joel Rosario, leading rider the last six Betfair Hollywood Park meetings, got off to an uncharacteristically slow start, winning with only one of his first 32 mounts. Since then, however, the Dominican rider has been on a tear, booting home seven winners in his last 14 rides, including a four-bagger Saturday, vaulting him into a tie for third in the standings. Agent Ronnie Ebanks reports that Rosario will be at Pimlico Friday and Saturday and will take his usual seat on Creative Cause in the Preakness.……..On the trainer side, Bob Baffert started the meeting with guns blazing, winning with 11 of his first 24 starters. The Hall of Fame trainer tripled Saturday, including a victory with Drill in the Lazaro Barrera Memorial Stakes…….. Tony Matos confirmed that Garrett Gomez will be at Belmont Park May 28th to ride Reneesgotzip in the Grade 1 Acorn Stakes at one mile. The Peter Miller trainee, who won an allowance race on Cushion Track May 4th, is two-for-two at Betfair Holllywood Park………… Through Saturday, there were 278 people alive in the Show Me the Money Contest.
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