Jockey Mario Gutierrez is still undefeated in America’s greatest race, the Kentucky Derby, after scoring with undefeated Nyquist under the Twin Spires on Saturday. That great ride led to another honor as he was named the Jockeys’ Guild Jockey of the Week for the week of May 2nd to May 8th. The award is voted on by a panel of experts for riding accomplishments by members of the Jockeys’ Guild, the organization which represents more than 950 riders in North America.
Four years after riding I’ll Have Another to victory in the “Run for the Roses”, Gutierrez earned another Derby triumph by riding favorite Nyquist to a 1 1/4-length victory. Gutierrez’s next step may well be trying to win another Preakness in only his second try, two weeks from now in Baltimore.
For the moment he’s basking in this Derby win. “One race at a time,” said Gutierrez.
Gutierrez got Nyquist to break cleanly, settle nicely and find a great spot early on in the Derby before giving him his head as they came around the far turn. He then asked for another gear into the stretch and Nyquist was willing. A familiar rival, Exaggerator, launched a late run from far back, but his rider, Kent Desormeaux, knew that it was a futile chase.
Gutierrez did not see Exaggerator or anyone else that he was worried about when he peeked beneath his arm. The rider knows his colt.
“He will not allow any other horse past him,” he said. “He’s the kind of horse that always has something left for whatever comes to him late.”
Gutierrez has experienced the highs and lows of the sport. After reaching the pinnacle of success in 2012, his career began a downward turn. He experienced self-doubt and was puzzled on how to rebound.
The Mexican born rider decided to try seeing a sports psychologist. After his first session, he booked ten more. He changed his diet and began intensifying his physical training. The changes came just in time as he was introduced to his current horse, Nyquist.
“I’m doing things I wasn’t doing four years ago,” said Gutierrez, who is expecting a child with his wife Rebecca. “So, that makes me have a lot of confidence. I know that my surroundings always believe in me, so you get extra confidence. “I believe I got the right people behind me, so they always give me confidence,” he added.
Gutierrez has shown it with Nyquist, who’s a perfect 8-0 — all with him aboard. The relationship came full circle at Churchill Downs with a run that didn’t shock trainer Doug O’Neill.
“He’s got ice in his veins,” he said of the jockey. “He’s the one you want on the free throw line at the end of the game.”
For the week, Gutierrez had one big win from just six starts and added one second place finish aboard Land Over Sea in the Kentucky Oaks on Friday. He led all North American riders in earnings for the week with $1,830,260.
JockeyTalk360.com spotlights the riders across North America and around the world who may be the bravest, toughest and most accomplished of all athletes. The Jockeys’ Guild Jockey of the Week is selected by a vote of representatives of America’s Best Racing, The Daily Racing Form, Equibase, Horse Racing Nation, The Jockeys’ Guild, The Paulick Report, The Thoroughbred Daily News, National Thoroughbred Racing Association, National Turf Writers and Broadcasters, Thoroughbred Racing Associations, and Turf Publicists of America.