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A local jockey competed in Saturday's Kentucky Derby

Reylu Gutierrez and Barber Road
Holly M. Smith Photography
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provided photo
Jockey Reylu Gutierrez, who is from Ontario County, rides Barber Road. Gutierrez and Barber Road will compete on Saturday in the Kentucky Derby.

UPDATE: Barber Road, the horse ridden by Victor native Reylu Gutierrez, finished 6th in Saturday's Kentucky Derby. Barber Road had odds of 60-1 to win the race. But a horse with even longer odds, Rich Strike, who went off at 80-1, upset the field to win the Kentucky Derby.

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There is a local connection to horse racing’s most prominent event on Saturday. One of the jockeys in the 148th running of the Kentucky Derby is from Ontario County.

26-year-old Reylu Gutierrez went to high school in Victor, and originally was looking to pursue a career in physical therapy.

But then he got into horse racing; his father is a trainer at Finger Lakes Gaming and Racetrack, and his uncle was a long time jockey.

Gutierrez paid his dues with a lot of hard work at the track in Farmington, and he began racing in 2017. He did compete in the Belmont Stakes in 2020, and on Saturday he’s riding the horse Barber Road in the Kentucky Derby.

But the local jockey said he always thinks about the training he got at the Finger Lakes track.

“Every day …I remember where I came from. And those humble beginnings; the people I remember, they work very hard,” Gutierrez said. "They don’t have necessarily the best or fastest horses but they try to make do with what they have and prove those horses every day.”

And Gutierrez also appreciates the exposure he’ll get on Saturday in Louisville.

“This is my chance to perform on the biggest stage and show people I should be at this level for many years to come,” he said.

Gutierrez said that he’s hooked now on horse racing as his career.

“The competitiveness inside of you and your personal goals. The horses have given me everything, since the day I was born, throughout my family. They’re all I know and sometimes you might say, ‘oh, I want to try to pursue different activities in my life,’ but at the end of the day, I’d be lying to myself, this is all I know," Gutierrez said.

Gutierrez plans to come back to the Farmington and Rochester areas for a few days after the Kentucky Derby to hang out with family and friends. A number of family members will be in Kentucky cheering him on this weekend.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.