I'll Have Another owner J.Paul Reddam never second-guessed his decision to put his prized colt, I'll Have Another, in the hands of a trainer and jockey with questionable credentials.
Trainer Doug O'Neill had never won a Triple Crown race and Mario Gutierrez had never even run in one.
But the move proved to be a perfect pairing and the horse is on the precipice of history, hoping to become just the 12th winner of U.S. thoroughbred racing's coveted Triple Crown.
"There may have been doubts about the trainer and the jockey, but the doubts were not expressed by me," he said after I'll Have Another's stirring Preakness Stakes victory.
"I thought that Doug did a fantastic job preparing the horse, and I don't know how he managed to have such an active social life at the same time. Every time I turned on the TV or the radio, there he was. He just really enjoyed the whole ride."
"I thought that Doug did a fantastic job preparing the horse, and I don't know how he managed to have such an active social life at the same time. Every time I turned on the TV or the radio, there he was."
Owner J.Paul Reddam
Reddam rolled the dice with Gutierrez, a 25-year-old Mexican who was a leading rider at tiny Hastings Racecourse in Vancouver, British Columbia, but had never ridden in the international spotlight.
The affable owner said the soft-spoken Gutierrez performed like a champion on Saturday.
"I really commend him because to go from, I don't want to say an obscure track, but one that's not on the radar every day, and then to be thrust into the limelight and be cool as he was," Reddam said.
"Before the race today, they were joking before getting a leg up. And I thought, 'He's going to be okay.' These guys really, they deserve the win. Absolutely."
Gutierrez rode I'll Have Another to a come-from-behind victory in the Kentucky Derby two weeks ago and performed his magic again on Saturday before a record crowd of 121,000 at Pimlico Race Course.
I'll Have Another caught favourite Bodemeister just before the wire to win by a neck and keep the chestnut son of Flower Alley unbeaten in four races this year.
Next up is the one and a half mile (2400 metres) Belmont Stakes in New York on June 9 where the crowd will be large and intense with a Triple Crown on the line.
Gutierrez said he has ridden in long races before but has never been to the Big Apple.
"It's not the first time I'm going to race a long race," he said.
"In Vancouver we have marathon races where they're just running around the track like five times. It's pretty long.
"But it's my first time in New York and my first time on the race track."
The fun-loving O'Neill, who threw out the ceremonial pitch at a Baltimore Orioles game, said he cannot wait to get to New York.
"The great thing about having a horse like I'll Have Another, it opens up a lot of doors," he said.
"You get to meet so many people who love horses and they love horse racing.
"Along the way if we can share a little bit of the backstage fun of it, and the excitement, and the beauty of it, I would
like to do that.
"I would love the opportunity to do cool things in New York if we can."