J. Paul Reddam’s I’ll Have Another turned back race favorite Creative Cause in a thrilling finish to win the 75th running of the Santa Anita Derby (G1) on Saturday.
Under a polished ride from 25-year-old Mario Guiterrez, I’ll Have Another moved as a team with Creative Cause at the head of the lane of the 1 1/8-mile race. The two collared pacesetter Blueskiesnrainbows in the stretch and battled to the wire together with I’ll Have Another proving best by the slimmest of margins in a tight photo finish. Final time for the distance was 1:47.88.
“This is so unbelievable,” Guiterrez told Santa Anita Publicity. “He is such a good horse and he gave me a big kick at the end. There wasn’t any doubt in my mind that my horse would give me everything in the stretch leading up to the wire.”
Trained by Doug O’Neill, I’ll Have Another is a son of Flower Alley. He is a graduate of the OBS sales in Ocala where he was purchased last year out of the April sale for $35,000. I’ll Have another was broken and trained in Ocala by Eisaman Equine. In his previous outing, I’ll Have Another captured the Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita.
“It was a great ride by (Mario) Gutierrez,” said O’Neil. “To me, he’s the closest thing to (Rafael) Bejarano we’ve got. He’s such a brilliant rider and he’s got real finesse. He’s confident but a humble kid. If you can’t get Bejarano, why not Gutierrez?
Asked what was going through his mind down the stretch: “I saw Creative Cause come up on the inside and I thought for a split second, running second in the Santa Anita Derby is pretty freaking good. All the wins are big at the time, but right now, this feels as big as it ever gets.
“I loved the way the race unfolded and how Mario had him positioned going into the first turn. Creative Cause coming up on the inside definitely gave me a scare, but our horse fought on. He’s doing so good. Hopefully, he comes out of this good and if he’s 100 percent, it’s on to Louisville.”
The win marked the first in a Grade 1 event for Guiterrez.
Santa Anita Park Publicity contributed to this report.
I’ll Have Another/Benoit