Gutierrez takes a bow at Belmont Park
NEW YORK (AP) - Mario Gutierrez took a bow in the Belmont Park winner's circle Saturday.
It wasn't the salute he had anticipated aboard I'll Have Another following the Belmont Stakes.
Gutierrez was presented a plaque hours before the Belmont by Carlos M. Sada, the consul general for Mexico based in New York, commemorating the wins in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.
Gutierrez lost his chance for Triple Crown glory when I'll Have Another was retired Friday because of a tendon injury.
Gutierrez addressed the crowd in Spanish and English as part of the ceremony.
"Everyone wanted to come and see my horse and we were so excited for today,'' he said. "Everything happens for a reason. We're not competing in the race anymore but it's my pleasure to be here.''
Gutierrez, largely unknown before the Derby, later reflected on what I'll Have Another meant to his career.
"He's the one that brought us here,'' Gutierrez said. "We have to take care of him. If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't be here. He's given this to me. I've got the Kentucky Derby. I got the Preakness. No one can take it away. It will stay with me the rest of my life, thanks to I'll Have Another. He made that possible.''
Upon learning I'll Have Another was scratched from the Belmont, Gutierrez was prepared to pack up and go home to California. Trainer Doug O'Neill and owner Paul Reddam convinced him to ride out the weekend at Belmont.
"They said `No, we're sticking around' It's like every sport when something bad happens. You have to keep moving forward. This is my job. This is what I do.''
Before heading off to ride another race, Gutierrez reflected on what might have been.
"A lot of people didn't believe in him since the Santa Anita Derby, the Kentucky Derby,'' Gutierrez said. "He proved them wrong. I know if he was 100 percent today, he would prove everybody wrong again.''
UNDERCARD: Desert Blanc beat Papaw Bodie by a nose to cap a furious stretch battle in the $500,000 Manhattan Handicap on the Belmont Stakes undercard.
Desert Blanc got the nod in the photo finish for his first win in the two starts in the U.S. The 4-year-old trained by Chad Brown started his career in France with three wins in his first five outings.
Ramon Dominguez was aboard as Desert Blanc ran the 1 1/4 miles in 1:59.65, paying $14.80 to win.
Trinniberg shortened up in distance to score a pacesetting victory in the $400,000 Woody Stephens for 3-year-old sprinters.
He took an ambitious swing in the 1 1/4 mile Kentucky Derby, tracking the front-running Bodemeister in second before fading to 17th.
The Woody Stephens, at seven furlongs, was more to his liking. Willie Martinez gunned him to the front and Trinniberg was determined in the lane, holding off Currency Swap by 1 3/4 lengths. He improved to 4 for 9 for trainer Bisnath Parboo, paying $7.70 to win as the 5-2 favorite
Tapitsfly led all the way to take the $500,000 Just A Game Stakes for fillies and mares on the turf. Ramon Dominguez guided the gray 5-year-old to a 2 1/4 length score over Winter Memories for trainer Dale Romans. She paid $8.40 to win
Caixa Eletronica rallied to capture the $400,000 True North Handicap with Javier Castellano riding for trainer Todd Pletcher, paying $9.20 as the 7-2 choice. The race was marred by the breakdown in midstretch by Giant Ryan, the 2011 New York-bred Horse of the Year, in midstretch.
Teeth of the Dog, fifth in the Preakness, bounced back to win the $100,000 Easy Goer Stakes for 3-year-olds. Joel Rosario was aboard for trainer Michael Matz. He paid $6.10 to win as the 2-1 favorite.
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