09/29/2013 7:45PM

Santa Anita: Indy Point wins John Henry to cap big weekend for Stevens

Email
Benoit & Associates
Indy Point, ridden by Gary Stevens, wins the John Henry Turf Championship by 1 1/4 lengths Sunday.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Nine months after he came out of retirement, jockey Gary Stevens had a season-best weekend at Santa Anita on Saturday and Sunday, winning four stakes, including Sunday’s $151,750 John Henry Turf Championship on Indy Point.

The wildly successful two days led the 50-year-old Hall of Famer to dream about more success in the Breeders’ Cup on Nov. 1-2.

“I didn’t think in my wildest dreams it would be like this,” he said.

Stevens won two Grade 1 races Saturday – the Awesome Again Stakes with Mucho Macho Man and the Zenyatta Stakes with Beholder. He also won the minor Unzip Me Stakes with the promising filly Pontchatrain.

The Grade 2 John Henry Turf Championship was the only stakes on Sunday’s 10-race program. Indy Point won the turf race over 1 1/4 miles in a style that suggests he will be competitive in the $3 million Breeders’ Cup Turf here Nov. 2.

Indy Point ($6) had an ideal trip in the John Henry Turf Championship and was timed in 1:57.47. He finished 1 1/4 lengths in front of Vagabond Shoes, the winner of the Grade 2 Del Mar Handicap on Aug. 24.

The win indicated that Indy Point’s last-place finish in a field of 13 in the Arlington Million on Aug. 17 more than likely was a fluke. Indy Point emerged from that race with “banged-up front feet,” trainer Richard Mandella said last week. There were no mishaps Sunday.

The John Henry Turf Championship was Indy Point’s second stakes win in three starts since joining Mandella’s stable this year after a successful campaign in Argentina in 2012. Indy Point, owned by Felipe Lovisi, won the restricted Wickerr Stakes at Del Mar on July 24 in his U.S. debut.

Sent off favored in a field of 12 in the John Henry Turf Championship, Stevens had Indy Point in sixth for the first half-mile, tracking pacesetter and defending champion Slim Shadey, who set fractions of 23.76 and 47.31 seconds. Stevens moved Indy Point outside of horses entering the turn and moved closer to the front with a three-wide move. Staying wide in the stretch, Indy Point was third with a furlong remaining and took the lead before the sixteenth pole.

“I wouldn’t say we had a plan other than to let him fall away from there,” Stevens said.“He’s a strong-minded horse. He took me where he wanted to go, and he took me to the right places.”

Vagabond Shoes finished three-quarters of a length in front of Lucayan, who rallied through traffic in the final quarter-mile. Old Time Hockey was fourth, followed by Teaks North, Slim Shadey, Kettle Corn, Holding Glory, Irish Surf, Tale of a Champion, Code of Conduct, and Affrettando.

Indy Point, an Argentine-bred by Indygo Shiner, won the 2012 Argentine Derby and three other stakes in that country last year. Indy Point has won 7 of 15 starts and $659,061. Mandella said Indy Point was made eligible to the Breeders’ Cup program earlier this year, and that the BC Turf would be a consideration.

Stevens is developing a strong book of BC mounts, including Mucho Macho Man (BC Classic), Beholder (Distaff), She’s a Tiger (Juvenile Fillies), and Marketing Mix (Filly and Mare Turf). She’s a Tiger was second in Saturday’s Chandelier Stakes, while Marketing Mix was the runner-up in Saturday’s Rodeo Drive Stakes.

“It’s pretty exciting,” Stevens said.