VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – Hastings Park is abuzz, after one of its own racers has won the Preakness.

The people who’ve mentored Mario Gutierrez think he and his horse can grab a third win, after winning the Kentucky Derby a couple of weeks ago.

Gutierrez came to Vancouver in 2006 as a 20-year-old who had yet to prove himself, but showed enough talent to get noticed.

A year later Glen Todd was told to put the young man on one of his horses. Gutierrez won the first race he competed in on Todd’s horse, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Todd says back then they had to resort to using sign language to communicate, as Gutierrez didn’t know much English, but he says his potential was unmistakable.

“The kid is talented. He has gifted hands. He has ice in his veins. He has the patience of Job. He is now one of the top riders in North America.”

Todd says he kept the kid out of trouble.

“He started to wander off a bit, he had money and the wrong friends,” he explains. “He came from a zero beginning in Mexico so I took him into my house in 2008 where he’s remained.”  

Todd believes Gutierrez will win the Belmont in three weeks, to become the first Triple Crown winner in 34 years.

And as fate would have it, the horse’s name is I’ll Have Another.

Wins translate into renewed interest in Hastings Park

BC’s Minister for Gaming Rich Coleman was down at the track, and says the win is good for business.

“There is a different buzz when you’ve got a kid that everyone says is Hastings Park’s super kid. Everyone is saying this is great and buying into the fact that he started here.”

People down at the track say they expect it to get busier now that it’s the home of a winner.

“Everyone is coming down,” says one woman. “It’s the first time we’ve been to the track in years,” says another.

“I used to come here a lot, but lately I haven’t. But with Mario winning these two races everyone’s gonna come down.”

The crowds at the park should be big June 9.  That’s when the Belmont Stakes take place, and the racecourse will broadcast it live.