INGLEWOOD, Calif. (May 11, 2012)—Jockey Mario Gutierrez was a winner Friday night at Betfair Hollywood Park with his first mount since he won the Kentucky Derby aboard I’ll Have Another six days earlier.
Gutierrez, who earned the unforgettable victory at Churchill Downs in his initial Derby experience, went gate-to-wire Friday with 5-2 second choice Blake in the first race, a $25,000 restricted claimer.
Owned by Southern Comfort Stable and Marie J. Fritts and trained by Vladimir Cerin, Blake, a 5-year-old son of Eurosilver, won by 2 ½ lengths over 11-10 favorite Quail Hill. The final time for the 1 1/16 miles over Cushion Track was 1:45.59.
Gutierrez, a 25-year-old native of Veracruz, Mexico whose life has been nothing short of a whirlwind since his 15-1 Derby surprise, acknowleged the applause of the Betfair Hollywood Park crowd after track announcer Vic Stauffer called attention to him and his recent accomplishment during the post parade.
“It was a pretty nice feeling,’’ Gutierrez told TVG’s Todd Schrupp and Simon Bray. “I was very happy to be back riding here. I still can’t believe what I’ll Have Another (trained by Doug O’Neill for owner J. Paul Reddam) was able to do last Saturday.’’
The jockey, who gained his first local win with another 15-1 shot owned by Reddam – Quiet Oasis in the $100,000 Wilshire Handicap April 29 – failed to win with his two remaining rides Friday. Bellini Bliss finished last in the second race and Warren’s Wild Thing was sixth in the seventh.
Gutierrez, who has two mounts on Saturday’s card at Betfair Hollywood Park, will spend Sunday at Hastings Park, the Vancouver track where he rode from 2006-2011 and was twice leading rider. He’ll leave for Baltimore Tuesday for another engagement with I’ll Have Another in the 137th Preakness Stakes May 19.
Rafael Bejarano took over the lead in the jockey standings after 10 days of the Spring/Summer meet with a Friday triple.
Bejarano, who has a 12-10 edge over Joe Talamo, won a pair for trainer Jeff Bonde – the second with Inner Groove and the sixth with American Wildcat – and the fourth aboard My Selection.
Trained by Bob Baffert for Kaleem Shah, Inc., My Selection won for the second time in three starts, defeating 13-10 favorite Magical Band by three-quarters of a length in the $55,944 optional claimer.
A 3-year-old Badge of Silver filly out of the Coronado’s Quest mare Le Relais, My Selection increased her earnings to $69,480. Covering the six furlongs over Cushion Track in 1:10.73, My Selection paid $7.80, $3.60 and $2.40. The win was a meet high eighth for Baffert, the defending Spring/Summer champion.
Magical Band, who finished 1 ¾ lengths in front of Heleonor Rugby, returned $3.20 and $2.40 while the show price on Heleonor Rugby, the lone California bred in the field of five, was $2.60.
Racing resumes Saturday. Post time is 1 p.m. Track gates will open at 9:55 a.m. for simulcasts.
The feature attraction is the third race – the $100,000 Lazaro Barrera Memorial Stakes. A Grade III at seven furlongs, the Barrera attracted the Baffert-trained duo of Gun Boat and Drill, American Act, winner of the opening day Harry Henson April 26 and first out maiden winner Boompa.
Drill, who defeated American Act by a nose in the Grade II San Vicente Feb. 19 at Santa Anita, is the 7-5 favorite on Russ Hudak’s morning line.
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