Excitement building for Victor native in Kentucky Derby

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — The excitement is building for Saturday’s 148th running of the Kentucky Derby and Western New York’s connection to the event is already preparing himself for the biggest race of his life.

News10NBC talked to Rey Gutierrez who grew up in Victor and began his racing career at the Finger Lakes Gaming and Racetrack.

When Gutierrez takes part in the $3M Run For The Roses, he will not only try to ride his horse "Barber Road" to victory, he will also rely on the years of hard work that propelled him to the Kentucky Derby.

"Everyone looks great and dappered up, and I’m so happy to be here amongst the elites of the horse racing game," Gutierrez said.

Imagine this, you just started your racing career in 2018, and 4 years later you’re racing in the Kentucky Derby in front of millions of horse racing fans. For Rey Gutierrez, it’s a reality, and he’s taking his meteoric rise in stride.

"You know generally it takes guys you know a good amount of time in their career, and I’ve been fortunate enough to fall in the right spots. You know it’s a matter of luck, and I’m really happy the outcome is to my benefit here," Gutierrez said.

Friday night Gutierrez raced in the 148th Kentucky Oaks. Out of 14 horses, he and his horse "Hidden Connection" came in 12th place. Gutierrez told us he will be reviewing the prior races of the other horses, and jockeys that he’s competing against in the Derby.

"You know I just want to put myself in a good spot you know where I’m going to follow the right horses, and slip through the right holes, and you know preparation, and luck could meet each other at the same time," Gutierrez said.

He will be coming out of gate 14 when the race starts. We asked him how good his chances are with "Barber Road".

"I have options," Gutierrez said. "There’s 13 horses to my left of me, only 6 to the right of me. I know all 6 horses won’t be quicker than me to my right so it’s a good spot to be in."

Gutierrez’s family has been involved in thoroughbred racing for decades. His father Luis is a trainer at Finger Lakes Gaming and Race Track. His uncle Jose was also a long-time jockey at the track. The entire family traveled down to Louisville for the Derby.

"Seeing them today. I mean my sister, my mother, my aunts, they all look beautiful. They all look great, and it just makes me happy that they’re here, and it makes me happier that you know regardless of the result they’re having a good time," Gutierrez said.

Western New York is coming along for the fastest 2 minutes in sports.

"Rochester, New York. The suburbs I love it. Beautiful places. Victor, Farmington, Fairport, Canandaigua, Pittsford, Henrietta you know I love them all, and I’m very grateful for being able to grow up in Western New York. So thank you to continue to everyone who is there," Gutierrez said.

You can catch coverage of the Kentucky Derby starting at 2:30 p.m. Saturday on News10NBC. The main event is at 6:57 p.m.