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Derby Does Not Intimidate Krigger

Mario Gutierrez and Kevin Krigger aren’t what you’d call best friends, but they do have one thing in common.

Both have emerged from racing’s doldrums to its pinnacle, Gutierrez having done so by winning the Kentucky Derby on I’ll Have Another last year in his very first attempt, Krigger poised to do the same thing if Goldencents can capture the Run for the Roses on May 4.

There are other similarities. Gutierrez is 26, 5-7 and weighs 114 pounds. Krigger is 29, 5-7 and weighs 114 pounds. Each resides near Santa Anita, Gutierrrez in Arcadia and Krigger in Azusa.

Gutierrez won the Santa Anita Derby last year on I’ll Have Another trained by Doug O’Neill. Krigger won the Santa Anita Derby on April 6 aboard Goldencents trained by Doug O’Neill. Next up: the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in two weeks.

There, except for their passion for the sport, similarities dissipate. Gutierrez, from Veracruz, Mexico, has been riding since 2006. Krigger, from St. Croix in the Virgin Islands, has been riding since 2001.

Gutierrez would be the last to counsel Krigger as the first Saturday in May approaches. “Krigger is far more experienced than I am,” Gutierrez said. “He has more years riding, and I’m no one to give him advice. He has his own people and his own horse. He believes in them and that’s the most important thing, to have confidence.

“Krigger started way before me. I only have seven years riding experience with Thoroughbreds.”

Still, his achievement and memories are etched in stone, never to be erased. Gutierrez recognizes that.

“You look back and see what you’ve accomplished and it’s unbelievable that you’ve won the Kentucky Derby,” he said. “Kevin can look forward to a great experience.”

Krigger vows not to be nonplused by what lies ahead.

“I’m going to approach it as any other race,” he said of the Derby. “It is what it is. It’s a mile and a quarter with 20 horses and I’m just going to go ahead and do what I’ve been doing with Goldencents all along, which is make sure he runs his race.

“I’m not trying to dictate his race because it’s the Derby. I’m just going to ride my horse and ride the race. Goldencents, he has dealt with the crowds pretty easily so far.

“We had a good crowd (33,005) on Santa Anita Derby Day. Before the race he handled the paddock pretty well. After the race, he handled the winner’s circle pretty well, and we had a huge crowd in there.

“We’re pretty confident the horse is going to handle everything, and we know that I am. “We’re just ready to win.”

There’s more to the tale of tape, according to O’Neill.

“Horses like to run for both of them,” he said. “They’re both very confident in their skills, and yet not arrogant. They’re both very appreciative to the connections who give them chances.

“They’re both talented guys who were just looking for opportunity to knock, and it did, and they’ve really taken advantage of it.”

 

 

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Older Comments about Derby Does Not Intimidate Krigger...

What people don't know is how Mario opened the door for several of his friends to make their way to Vancouver and start riding....Many are now over at Northlands in Alberta and several rode at Turf Paradise over the Winter as well
We all knew watching Mario that he was destined for better, GGF or maybe S. Cal. NO ONE would have expected what happened to him. Nice kid who really has his head screwed on correctly with the help of Troy Talor and Glenn Todd (Sovereign Award winning Owner in Canada two yeras ago)
some one understands
A jockey may not make a horse better, but can surely hinder his chances.
jockeys are ALWYAS only as good as the horse between their legs, ALWAYS
not only for him,but every jock.you can chirp all you want how you will not feel the pressure.trust me,when you come out of that tunnell and 130,000 fans are screaming and the band is playing.if your tummy is not filled with butterflies.they might as well take your pulse.just like with the horses,same with jocks.the ones who get to relax the quickest will be the most succesful.
I find Kevin Krigger to be very poised. Still, to say that he handled a crowd of 33,000 @ Santa Anita pales in comparison with circa 150,000 at Churchill. I have heard it said by other jockeys that rode in the Derby, that when they turn for home, they run into a "wall" of cheering, that is very frightening, when first you encounter it. Stewart Elliott also won at first asking, and Jeremy Rose did well in the other Triple Crown events. One thing, for sure, is that there will always be "new" faces. Good luck, Kevin. I hope your's is a dream-come-true ride.
Good for him!

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