The Triple Crown mostly wins immortality for the horse that wears it, but at the 2012 Belmont Stakes there's a human with a shot at permanent legend-status on the line, too—Mario Gutierrez, the 25-year-old jockey who's ridden I'll Have Another to wins at the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes and comes into the Belmont Stakes with the target on his back for the first time.
An underdog like his horse—Gutierrez grew up poor in Mexico before emerging as a professional jockey—he'll need to acclimate to Belmont's extreme length and strange surface just as much as I'll Have Another. And he may not be under quite as much pressure as his horse, but he has the added hindrance of being able to read his own press.
Jockeys have held mixed opinions about his chances; in that particular article you have a Hall of Famer saying no chance and a other jockeys suggesting he has the talent and the poise to pull it off. All he can do is continue to work in his own style—and it seems, if his pre-race comments are any indication, that he's prepared to do that.
More Belmont Stakes 2012 coverage from SB Nation St. Louis:
- The detention barn is now open, just in time for the controversy surrounding it to heat up..
- Maybe it's more important, in general, to know why the Triple Crown is such a tough feat to pull off.
- The Belmont Stakes promises huge ratings for NBC no matter what happens, which is good news for them, at least.