“It’s beyond belief,” said trainer Doug O’Neill after the race. “Somebody asked me earlier in the week what would it be like to win the Kentucky Derby. I used Bubba Watson’s quote when he won the Masters: I never dreamt this far. I never in a million years thought we could do this,” he said.
There was no clear favorite in this year’s group of 20 thoroughbreds, but Bodemeister at 6 to 1 odds looked strong out of the gate and held the lead up until the final few seconds.
That’s when I’ll Have Another and jockey Mario Gutierrez (pictured) made their move. I’ll Have Another finished the one and a quarter mile race in 2:01:83 and a length and a half ahead of Bodemeister.
I’ll Have Another won the Santa Anita Derby and Robert Lewis Stakes earlier this year but was put the vet’s list after receiving shock therapy on this back. The extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT) is a common therapy treatment, but adding a first-time Derby jockey and receiving post 19, which no Derby horse has ever won from, the odds were stacked against the team.
“I was telling some folks that was the second time Mario has ridden on the dirt at Churchill, and the first time was earlier today. We got him the experience he needed. Went off flawlessly,” said owner Paul Reddam in a press conference.
Twenty-five-year-old Gutierrez said he’s happy he didn’t melt down during the race, and that staying focused and doing his homework before hand contributed to the win.
“I grew up with horses since I was a little kid, since I was eight years old on a farm in Mexico City, Vera Cruz. I start riding horses since I was 12,” said Gutierrez.
As for the team, both Reddam and O’Neill said they’ll be taking I’ll Have Another to the Preakness Stakes later this month.
Bodemeister finished a close second, Dullahan came in third.