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"Immortality has been realized once the roar of the crowd has been united."

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


Anthony Gutierrez: The Southern California Kid

No journey in life can begin without a defining moment, a wrinkle in time when everything that was formerly understood becomes forever changed. Horse players often happen upon this moment during their first visit to the track, yet for Anthony Gutierrez, that initial trip to Santa Anita Park in 2006 was far from unforgettable. “All I can remember was a feeling of boredom and wanting to leave,” Tony recalls. Just eight years later, it is essential to now reflect on the evolution of a horse player by taking a closer look at the growth of the man.

Anthony Gutierrez and girlfriend Carla at Santa Anita Park

Tony was born in the Southern California city of Long Beach in 1987. The oldest of four children, he has two brothers and a younger sister. He spent a portion of his childhood in the Central Valley town of Modesto, but has called Long Beach home for the vast majority of his years. Memories from youth often draw out like a highlight reel in the mind, and if this holds truth for Tony, the most treasured images on his reel are those revolving around his mother. He credits her for both his upbringing and for making the sacrifices necessary to raise four children as a single parent. “My mom was the ultimate role model,” Tony stated.

In school, Tony excelled in history, but also admits to having harbored an intense dislike for math. Sports played a pivotal role in his early life as well. “It seemed that I was involved in one sport or another at all times,” he explains. “Baseball was definitely close to my heart, but soccer will always be my first love.” As he matured into adulthood, Tony would soon carry that affection he held for competition into an arena he had yet to explore.  

The young man from Long Beach would first watch the horses run at the insistence of his girlfriend, Carla. Despite the detachment he felt during that first trip to the race track, Tony chose to give horse racing another chance. Eventually, the sport that he had once declared a mystery had attracted him to a new way of life.

A Day at the Races

Tony has attended races at all of the tracks on the Southern California thoroughbred circuit. This includes Santa Anita Park, Del Mar, Fairplex, and the recently closed Betfair Hollywood Park in Inglewood. Each venue offers something distinct and appealing to its guests, yet none are as special to Tony as Los Alamitos Race Course in the city of Cypress. The track best known for its quarter horse racing is the site that Tony considers his home away from home. It is there he can likely be found on most any weekend of the year.

Horse players develop their craft with a particular style by which they approach the game. For Tony, the pick four is by far and away his favorite of all the possible wagers. His tickets are primarily designed based on the strength of his selections and on the sequence that awaits him. “I enjoy the value that can be found in a succession of races,” Tony remarked.

Incorporating various handicapping angles to finalize his tickets, Tony relies heavily on both class and pace to help determine his action plan. He also employs another tactic that is utilized by many seasoned horse players, and that is to play the entire race out in his head prior to the horses ever stepping onto the track.

Tony feels that his greatest strength lies with the quarter horses, attributing this to the experience he has gained while watching them run on a regular basis. He does concede, however, that he hopes to improve his handicapping through a greater understanding of fractions. “I would like a more in depth grasp of how the fractions in a race will ultimately impact the outcome of a contest,” he says.

Thus far, Tony has used the knowledge he has attained to make several notable scores, the largest coming on a pick four ticket at Los Alamitos that netted him roughly five-thousand dollars. 

Over the years, he has had the opportunity to witness many of the sport’s greatest athletes compete. Garrett Gomez and Rodrigo Aceves are two jockeys he admires greatly. Bodemeister and Curlin are among his most beloved thoroughbreds, and he is quick to note Apolitical Jess, Wave Carver, and Blues Girl Two as three of his all-time favorite quarter horses. The most memorable moment Tony recounts in racing was watching Zenyatta win her nineteenth consecutive start in the Lady’s Secret Stakes at Hollywood Park.

Eight years has eternally altered the course of Anthony Gutierrez’s life. In that short period of time, an inquisitive young man became a horse player, but perhaps more importantly, that horse player has begun to realize his dreams not only at the track, but away from it.

Tony does construction work part-time and is currently working towards a college degree in communications. He lists jogging, reading, and spending time at the beach as just a few of his other interests. He is an avid sports fan aside from racing, and he places great emphasis on the relationships that he maintains with others. Family is an integral part of Tony’s life, but food is a main ingredient as well. The Southern California Kid would happily direct anyone interested to the best spot in Long Beach for a torta de asada or a wet burrito.

The goals that Tony has set for himself are admirable. Graduating from college is near the top of this list, but the idea of marriage at some point in the future is also a very motivating objective. “When I have children, I plan on becoming the male role model that was absent in my own youth,” he professes. Stability is now of the utmost importance to Tony, and it takes little more than a brief conversation with him to sense his sincerity.

No journey in life can begin without a defining moment, but then again, no moment in and of itself can define the entire journey, either. Unfinished stories are commonly riddled with uncertainty, yet as Anthony Gutierrez’s story continues to unfold, it is brilliantly clear that his outgoing nature and sharp intellect will allow him to accomplish many great things.  

Follow Tony on Twitter at Anthony Doubles@tony_pk4

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The author is a horse racing enthusiast determined to offer a unique vision of the sport's most paramount stories.