10/03/2012 3:39PM

Santa Anita: Gutierrez has one more hectic weekend before settling back in California

Barbara D. Livingston
Jockey Mario Gutierrez will primarily be riding in Southern California for the rest of the season.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Jockey Mario Gutierrez is back riding in Southern California for the first time in three months at the current Santa Anita autumn meeting, at least when he is not busy traveling around North America for major stakes.

Best known for winning the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes on I’ll Have Another in May, Gutierrez, 26, has a busy itinerary this weekend, one that will cover approximately 6,400 miles from Saturday through Monday riding at Keeneland, Hoosier Park, Santa Anita, and Hastings racecourse.

He is scheduled to ride He’s Had Enough in the Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland on Saturday afternoon before making the 200-mile trip north to Hoosier Park to ride Second City in the Indiana Derby later that day.

Gutierrez travels back to California for Sunday’s program at Santa Anita and then flies to Vancouver to ride at Hastings on Monday.

Gutierrez has not ridden regularly in Southern California since July, the end of the spring-summer meeting at Betfair Hollywood Park. He rode occasionally at Del Mar, going winless with eight mounts, but had success in other parts of the country in late summer.

For trainer Troy Taylor, his longtime supporter, Gutierrez won the Longacres Mile at Emerald Downs in Washington in August. He spent considerable time at the western Canadian tracks Northlands Park in Edmonton and Hastings in Vancouver, where he won six stakes from mid-July to mid-September.

Four of those stakes were aboard Evelyn’s Dancer and Commander, horses he is scheduled to ride in stakes at Hastings on Monday.

Taking a break from California was part of a plan, Gutierrez said.

“I rode the stakes for Troy,” he said. “I had success with the Longacres Mile.”

After this weekend’s travels, Gutierrez will be able to focus on Santa Anita. Last weekend, on the opening three days of the autumn meeting, he spent mornings working horses, but was winless with 10 mounts. For his comeback on this circuit, Gutierrez has switched agents, replacing Ivan Puhich with Craig O’Bryan.

They have a month to attract mounts for the Breeders’ Cup for Nov. 2-3 and gain a more prominent role among a competitive jockey roster in Southern California.

“We can step it up and improve,” Gutierrez said. “I’ve had an amazing year and I want it to continue.”