Since Mario Gutierrez became a star by winning the first two legs of the Triple Crown aboard I'll Have Another , the jockey has often expressed publicly his gratitude to owner J. Paul Reddam and trainer Doug O'Neill for giving him the opportunity. But before them, it was horse owner Glen Todd who took the young Mexican rider under his wing at Hastings Racecourse in Vancouver, B.C.
Gutierrez, who will turn 26 Dec. 19, feels he has a good chance to pay Todd back in the $200,000 British Columbia Derby (Can-III) Sept. 9. He will be aboard Todd's Taylors Deal, trained by Troy Taylor, in the 1 1/8-mile event for 3-year-olds.
Gutierrez arrived at Hastings as an apprentice in 2006, homeless and broke. Todd, along with Taylor, the dominant owner/trainer combination in British Columbia racing for the past several years, brought him along and made him their number one rider. The three even shared a house in Vancouver.
For all of the major stakes races Todd has won at Hastings, Emerald Downs and Northlands Park, he and Taylor have never been able to add the BC Derby championship to their trophy case. They will have a three-horse entry in this year's field.
“I don’t mind admitting it’s something I want,” Todd says. “We’ll be pulling out all stops to make it happen.”
Taylors Deal is considered the horse to beat in the BC Derby, the richest race of the season at Hastings. Taylors Deal has won three of his four starts this year, including the British Columbia Cup Stellar’s Jay Aug. 6 by a commanding 5 1/4 lengths.
“I want to win the BC Derby for my partner,” Gutierrez recently declared in reference to Todd, whose North American Thoroughbred Horse Company owns Taylors Deal. “He has done so much for me I cannot thank him enough. I know what winning the Derby before a hometown crowd means to him.”
Gutierrez, who returned to Hastings after all of the Triple Crown excitement subsided early in the summer, won the Longacres Mile (gr. III) at Emerald Downs for Todd and Taylor with Taylor Said. He said afterward, "Glen is like my dad and Troy is like my grandpa. I’m so happy I could win this race for them. They’re my family.”
Earlier on the card, Gutierrez will ride Evelyn's Dancer, on a three-race stakes win streak for Taylor, Todd and Mark Dedomenico, in the $100,000 British Columbia Oaks.
A full field of 12 is entered in this year's BC Derby, which will be the richest race in North America Sept. 9. The race goes as the ninth on the 10-race program at 5:10 p.m. PDT. The card also includes three other $100,000 races: the BC Oaks, which is the fifth race, the Sadie Diamond Futurity, and the Jack Diamond Futurity.
Besides his recent Hastings victory, Taylors Deal won the Turf Paradise Derby Feb. 25. The locally-bred gelding by Second in Command boasts a career mark of five wins and two seconds from eight starts with earnings of $135,408. He breaks from post 10 in the big field. Taylors Deal drilled five furlongs over the Hastings bullring in :59 4/5 Sept. 2.
Todd and Taylor supplemented a second entrant in the Derby, Hoist. A recently purchased Kentucky-bred son of Mineshaft who arrived in Vancouver from Saratoga Race Course, Hoist was previously trained by Dominic Galluscio. The chestnut gelding has won three of seven starts and has not been worse than third in his career.
Hoist will be making his stakes debut with first-year rider Enrique Gonzalez aboard. They drew the far outside post.
They also entered Devil in Disguise, a two-time stakes winner at Hastings that comes off a third-place finish in the Canadian Derby (Can-III) at Northlands Park Aug. 25. The Kentucky-bred colt by Smarty Jones has won four of nine lifetime starts, including three stakes. Rico Walcott will ride from post 2.
Several others are worthy of consideration.
Dougs Buddy, a four-time stakes winner for trainer Joan Petrowski, was a supplemental entrant following his runner-up finish in the Canadian Derby.
Another supplemental addition, Second City, is undefeated in three starts at Penn National Race Course and Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races. Trained by Stephanie Beattie for owner Peter Redekop, the son of Distorted Humor blew out three furlongs over the Hastings track in :35 1/5 Sept. 6 in preparation for his stakes bow.
High End Man, a son of Joey Franco, won Hastings Derby Trial Handicap Aug. 17. He has won three of five starts this season at Hastings for trainer Peter Gregory.
Stakes winner Italian Boy was second while bet down to 7-5 in the Emerald Downs Derby Aug. 12 for trainer Tim McKenna, missing by a half-length. This will be the first start for the Tizbud colt at Hastings.
Also coming out the Emerald Downs Derby is third-place finisher D'honorable One. The son of D'wildcat won the Auburn Handicap at the Seattle track by three lengths in June for trainer Blaine Wright.
The Gov and Wilo Kat ran second and third, respectively, in the Hastings Derby Trial Handicap.
$200,000 British Columbia Derby (Can-III, Race 9, 5:10 p.m.), 3YOs, 1 1/8 Miles
PP. Horse, Jockey, Trainer
1. The Gov (BC), P V Alvarado, P Hall
2. a-Devil in Disguise (KY), R W Walcott, T Taylor
3. Italian Boy (WA), W Antongeorgi III, T McCanna
4. Qatar's Pearl (KY), F P Fuentes, R Gilker
5. High End Man (BC), A Perez, P Gregory
6. Dougs Buddy (KY), S Heiler, J Petrowski
7. Second City (KY), R H Hamel, C MacPherson
8. El Capone (BC), M Dunn, J Snow
9. D'honorable One (FL), F H Perez, B D Wright
10. a-Taylors Deal (BC), M Gutierrez, T Taylor
11. Wilo Kat (BC), A A Reyes, J Snow
12. a-Hoist (KY), E A Gonzalez, T Taylor
13. Mysterious Soul (KY), A Perez, B Heads
a-North American Thoroughbred Horse Company entry
All carry 126 pounds.