02/12/2013 5:07PM

Santa Anita: Stevens aims to continue stakes streak

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.

Richard More than 1 year ago
Well there is no doubt in my mind that Gary Stevens is” Back in the saddle again!” Of course stakes are what he wants to ride. That is the caliber of jockey he is, a major stakes winner! I can see it is time to start setting up a stakes schedule. I do not want to miss some of the opportunities that will come up with these most recent races when he has to go off at fair odds. I play trifectas and superfectas. I have to play him in all three or four positions because he is going to hit them. When Gary gets on a good role you can almost bet him for all his stakes races because he is going to come in any of the four spots.
Rick Baldwin More than 1 year ago
I like Stevens & think his presence in the saddle is a big plus & will be a fan draw.
Abha Khabar More than 1 year ago
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.
morton erskine More than 1 year ago
I still have the program he was kind enough to sign when he won the Longacres Mile on Louis Cyphre.
Pat More than 1 year ago
Gary...well done kick some butt..make us old guys proud!,,,
Jock More than 1 year ago
You couldn't have said it any better.I always liked Gary and even have a couple Autograph items from him,Jerry
Albert More than 1 year ago
I liked the way he handled Seabuiscuit.
zerosumzen More than 1 year ago
GL Gary! Best line in Luck: "I break this f*cking collar bone more than I get laid." Which begs the question. If Luck hadn't been canceled, would you be riding today?
Keith More than 1 year ago
NBC will be in need of another retired jockey to do the commentary on their planned last two Sarudays in March, first two Saturdays in April Derby Preps coverage with Gary looking like he might have a choice of potential Derby runners, as he has Proud Strike to add to his potential Tiz the Truth. So who does NBC go to, I'd cast my vote for the recently retired to modeling, acting, and singing but primarily wifing and mothering former popular jockey, the lovely Chantal Sutherland. Sure hit with the grizzled ol' railbirds, I submit. Keith L.
Tiny Montgomery More than 1 year ago
My vote would go to Julie Krone Hovdey if she was up for it.
RacingOntrack More than 1 year ago
Good to see Gary back. A great jockey and knowledgeable horseman who also worked as commentator for TVG and ESPN, he is a credit to horseracing. Go Gary Go!
Dean More than 1 year ago
How he made the lead so easy from that post with Slim and putting that full field to sleep was vintage Gary...half of those second place finishes would be off the board with any other jock. I'd love to see the two old pros Smith and Stevens in match race...Great comeback so far!!
Fred Colon More than 1 year ago
What horse would you put on their backs? What good would a match race be if you are comparing jockeys. I agree with you in that a jockey can and often does make a difference in the outcome of a race, but a match race to determine what? Where are you going to find two Secretariates to run in the same race to determine which one of the two jocks is better than the other? They're both great jockeys and lets just leave it at that!