02/12/2013 5:07PM

Santa Anita: Stevens aims to continue stakes streak

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Shigeki Kikkawa
Gary Stevens rode Slim Shadey to victory in Saturday’s San Marcos.

ARCADIA, Calif. – After sweeping the two stakes at Santa Anita last weekend, Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens can extend that streak of wins at the highest level this weekend at Santa Anita and at Fair Grounds later this month.

Stevens is booked to ride Great Hot for trainer A.C. Avila in Saturday’s $200,000 Santa Maria Stakes for fillies and mares. On Feb. 23 at Fair Grounds, Stevens is booked to ride two major stakes for 3-year-olds – Proud Strike for trainer Steve Asmussen in the $400,000 Risen Star Stakes and Midnight Ballet for Tom Proctor in the $200,000 Rachel Alexandra Stakes.

Riding stakes was the primary goal for the 49-year-old Stevens when he returned to riding on a full-time basis last month after a break of more than seven years. The wins last weekend on Slim Shadey in Saturday’s $151,750 San Marcos Stakes and Sunday’s $86,500 Wishing Well Stakes on the Proctor-trained Purim’s Dancer left the rider enthused about his short-term prospects.

“I’ve just got to take it a step at a time,” he said Tuesday. “People are giving me chances.”

Through Sunday, Stevens had 4 wins from 36 mounts with 11 seconds since his return. He described Slim Shadey “as a monster” after the gelding led throughout the San Marcos Stakes over 1 1/4 miles on turf.

Purim’s Dancer won her stakes debut in the Wishing Well for fillies and mares on the hillside turf course. She could start around two turns in coming months, Proctor said Tuesday. A longer race would suit the filly, Stevens said Sunday.

“She won with a lot of ease and shut it down when I eased up on her,” he said. “When the field came galloping by her, she picked it up. She wanted more.”

Great Hot, a two-time stakes winner who began her career in Brazil, will be part of a small field in the Grade 2 Santa Maria Stakes over 1 1/16 miles for fillies and mares. The competition is expected to include Book Review, who won the Grade 1 La Brea Stakes for 3-year-old fillies in December; Lady of Fifty, who won the Grade 2 Bayakoa Stakes at Betfair Hollywood Park in December; and Snow Fall, winner of the Paseana Handicap last month.

Great Hot was fourth in the Paseana. She is nominated for Monday’s $150,000 Buena Vista Stakes on turf, but Avila said Tuesday that he is “90 percent” sure that Great Hot will run in the Santa Maria.

Great Hot, 5, won the Grade 2 Raven Run Stakes at Keeneland in 2011 and was ninth in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint at Santa Anita last November. Stevens will ride Great Hot for the first time Saturday.

Broken Dreams retired from racing

Purim’s Dancer has come along at an ideal time for Proctor. Earlier this year, Broken Dreams, a three-time stakes winner for Proctor, was retired to be bred, he said.

Owned by breeder Glen Hill Farms, Broken Dreams won 7 of 24 starts and $394,072. She won consecutive runnings of the Grade 3 Sen. Ken Maddy Stakes at Santa Anita in 2011 and 2012 and won the Osunitas Stakes at Del Mar last July.

Broken Dreams finished fifth in her final start, the Grade 2 Monrovia Stakes for female turf sprinters at Santa Anita on Jan. 6.