Mario Gutierrez was at Hastings Racecourse in Spirit with a Record Crowd Showing Its Appreciation

VANCOUVER, June 9, 2012 /CNW/ - An estimated crowd of 14,000 plus fans were on hand at Hastings Racecourse Saturday afternoon to salute their home-town hero Mario Gutierrez, the celebrated rags to riches jockey who was on the verge of thoroughbred racing history before his horse I'll Have Another was scratched from the 144th running of the Belmont Stakes.

Under brilliant Vancouver sunshine, a lively and loving crowd went wild when track announcer Dan Jukich read a message from Mario that said:  "I would sincerely like to thank my friends and fans at Hastings Racecourse in Vancouver for all of their support.  This has been a thrill of a lifetime for me and I am so happy to be able to share it with you.  Your love and support have kept me strong being so far away from home.  God bless you all."

Gutierrez and I'll Have Another were on the verge of becoming racing's first Triple Crown champion since Affirmed in 1978. The dream ended when I'll Have Another was scratched because of a tendinitis injury that was discovered in his lower left leg following an early morning gallop Friday.

But the show - and the party - went ahead as scheduled Saturday at Hastings.  "We are so pleased that fans came out to support Mario and his great accomplishment," said Raj Mutti, Regional General Manager, BC Racing. "This has been such a great shot in the arm for the industry and we have Mario to thank for it.  We are looking forward to his return to Hastings on Canada Day weekend."

Saturday's feature at Hastings was a $35,000 Optional Claiming race for 3-year-olds and up with leading apprentice jockey Marlo Dunn urging Ganbei  to victory for trainer Mel Snow.  Ganbei, a former stakes winner, finished the 1 1/16 miles challenge in an excellent final time of 1:44.90, paying $16.80, $8.10 and $4.80.

Racing resumes at Hastings Sunday at 1:50 p.m. with the $50,000 Emerald Downs going as the feature in the 7th race.

SOURCE Hastings Racecourse

For further information:

Howard Blank at 604 512 6066

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