05/23/2016 7:25AM

Gutierrez looking ahead to Belmont, not back to Preakness

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Benoit & Associates
Mario Gutierrez wins the Californian Stakes on Sunday aboard Second Summer.

ARCADIA, Calif. - A day after Nyquist finished third in the $1.5 million Preakness Stakes at Pimlico, jockey Mario Gutierrez won the feature race at Santa Anita – the $200,345 Californian Stakes with Second Summer.

The victory was his first mount since the Preakness and was a welcome distraction.

Earlier in the day, Gutierrez had posted a message on Instagram, thanking the team behind Nyquist – owners Paul and Zillah Reddam and Doug O’Neill – and his fans for their support, offering congratulations to race winner Exaggerator, and stating that he was looking forward to an expected rematch in the Belmont Stakes on June 11.

The Grade 2 Californian Stakes was Gutierrez’s sixth stakes win of the year and first for owners and a trainer other than Paul and Zillah Reddam and Doug O’Neill, the people behind Nyquist. Second Summer races for Sharon Alesia, Ciaglia Racing, Marc Ferrell and Slam Dunk Racing, and is trained by Peter Eurton.

After Second Summer’s win, Gutierrez echoed some of the thoughts he wrote on Instagram.

“I feel good,” he said on television in the winner’s circle. “We had a sad day yesterday. We’ll come back, and we have a talented horse.”

A few minutes later, while walking from the jockeys' room to the paddock for the day’s final race, Gutierrez said he was looking forward to the Belmont.

Gutierrez came under criticism in some quarters for his ride on Nyquist in the 1 3/16-mile Preakness. He urged Nyquist to the front through a quick pace of 22.38 for the opening quarter-mile and 46.56 seconds for a half-mile. The pace took its toll when Nyquist faded in the stretch to finish 3 1/2 lengths behind Exaggerator.

Asked if he second-guessed his race tactics on Nyquist, Gutierrez was quick to say no and turn the conversation toward his win on Second Summer.

“You didn’t see me second guess myself in this race,” he said. “I’m legit.”

Gutierrez walked away smiling.