09/29/2013 8:45PM

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

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.

Daniel Contreras More than 1 year ago
grande indy point , ckak argentino
Abby Fuller More than 1 year ago
Epic weekend for Gary !!Mucho congratulations to he,trainer Kathy Ritvo & Dream Team on M.M.Man's Awesome Again win as well as the rest of the great wins.Kudos and best wishes for the awesome comeback to continue!(:
Ricky Williams More than 1 year ago
Gary will be a force come BC. I bet everything he rode this weekend. When the iron is hot strike!
Gj Ubar More than 1 year ago
So happy for Gary Stevens since his comeback. It just makes racing that much more fun for me. I wish him the best and hope he rides injury-free! Keep going, Gary!!
John More than 1 year ago
Gary was on "The Tim McCarver Show" last night, sort of good timing to a fitting weekend. Stevens is riding the grass like "Go Go and Mike Smith "...............seems to be always in the right spot, staying out of trouble ! Interesting BC , can anyone beat Wise Dan ?.................................I think its insane they are not coming out with Princess of Sylmar, could you imagine, Beholder, Princess of Sylmar and Royal Delta ..........................oh well ! I wish Midnight Lucky was ready, I think she will be a force when she returns !
John More than 1 year ago
Have a feeling Tale of a Champion has his sights set on something Breeders Cup day. If you watch the replay, he was sitting close, going easy and then they wrapped him up in the stretch. He certainly wouldnt have won, but it seemd to be a straight forward prep race ! Too bad I couldnt figure that out , I had a good sized exacta to Indy Point .............whats new ?
liljock More than 1 year ago
Awesome weekend for the incomparable Gary Stevens!
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Great job by Mandella barn.
Francisco Pannaci More than 1 year ago
I hope Chris McCarron thinks what to say now about Steven's come back. He bashed him pretty hard nine or ten months ago when the come back was announced, even with sarcastic comments." I better star producing more jockeys" regarding his school of apprentice jockeys. He should mind his own business.
Walter More than 1 year ago
He was just kidding. McCarron & Stevens are good buddies
Mike B More than 1 year ago
Epic comeback for Steven's--hope he has a book in the works.. See it commonly in various sports, but fewer rise back to the very top and stay there. Looks like he has a few more years at the top (if he stays injury free).
Constance Gonczy More than 1 year ago
Have you read his earlier biography?