By Greg Douglas – Dr. Sport
SCENE & HEARD: The phrase ‘whirl wind visit’ doesn’t do justice to the tornado-like stopover Mario Gutierrez pulled off to be at Hastings Monday afternoon for BC Cup Day.
Mario rode Kingly to victory Sunday at Del Mar in the featured $150,000 La Jolla Handicap. Later that night he was at a karaoke fund-raiser for disabled jockeys. Shortly before midnight, he drove to Los Angeles to be at LAX by 4 a.m.to catch a flight to Vancouver two hours later.
His plane arrived at YVR at 9 a.m. and by the time he cleared immigration with a one-day working visa it was 10:30 a.m. Within the hour he arrived at Hastings Racecourse to prepare for a full day with mounts in five stake races.
“It’s a good thing the kid can fall asleep anywhere at any time,” Glen Todd said later. “He slept in the jock’s room after his mount in the first race until he had to get ready for the sixth.”
Todd was responsible for arranging Mario’s return to his racing roots Monday. The two have shared a father-son relationship for the past 13 years during which time Todd took Mario under his wing and prepared him for a lucrative life on the California circuit that has so far included two Kentucky Derby victories.
“I literally delivered him to Santa Anita in 2012 and told him not to come back,” Todd says. “He shed some tears and asked me why I was trying to get rid of him. It was quite emotional for both of us but I explained it was his gain and my loss.”
Their relationship has only grown stronger.
Mario was thrilled to reunite with his Vancouver racing family Monday that included Hall of Fame retired trainer Troy Taylor who’s been in Todd’s company dating back to 1953.
At the conclusion of BC Cup Day Todd entertained a party of 12 at dinner in Langley – 88-year-old Taylor and his wife Judy included – prior to Glen and Mario staying up half the night at the Todd residence, laughing and talking about old times.
Mario made a quick goodbye visit to the jocks room Tuesday morning and was back on a flight to California that afternoon to meet more riding commitments in Del Mar Wednesday.
“Where does the time go?” Todd asked in a sensitive moment. “Mario’s 32 and so mature. I’m really proud of him. It’s hard to put it into words.”