02/13/2015 11:09PM

Stevens gets win No. 5,000 in North America

Shigeki Kikkawa
Gary Stevens and Catch a Flight (right) win the fourth race at Santa Anita on Friday, giving the jockey his 5,000th win in North America.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Gary Stevens rode his 5,000th winner in North America in Friday’s fourth race at Santa Anita aboard Catch a Flight, a 5-year-old who may be on his way to important stakes in the coming weeks.

Catch a Flight ($3.60) won an optional claimer at 1 1/8 miles on dirt in 1:49.09, holding off a late rally from 8-1 Sammy Mandeville.  Stevens, who has won at least 139 races in six countries outside of North America, downplayed the milestone to an extent.

“The last two weeks have been tough,” he said, recalling a period with a few close losses. “I wasn’t thinking of the number. It’s just another number at the end of the day. I can get back to business.”

At the same time, Stevens recalled telling friends at a Thursday evening dinner party that he had a good feeling about Catch a Flight, his only mount on Friday’s eight-race program.

“I said, ‘You better be there by 2:30,” Stevens said. “I felt good about him today.”

Stevens, who turns 52 on March 6, won his first race in his native Idaho in 1979. He has been a fixture in Southern California since the early 1980s but has been plagued by knee issues in the last 15 years that have led to temporary retirements. Stevens resumed riding in early 2013 and won the Preakness Stakes that year.

Earlier in his career, he won the Kentucky Derby three times on Winning Colors in 1988, Thunder Gulch in 1995, and Silver Charm in 1997. He won the Breeders’ Cup Classic in 2013 on Mucho Macho Man.

Stevens has ridden in nearly all of the major racing countries in the world. He has won 55 races in France, 50 in Britain, 20 in Hong Kong, 10 in Dubai, three in Japan and one in Ireland, giving him far more than 5,000 career wins. Stevens won the Dubai World Cup in 1998 on Silver Charm.

Friday’s optional claimer was the second start and the first win in the United States for Catch a Flight, who was third in a Group 1 race on turf in Brazil last year. Trained by Richard Mandella for Haras Santa Maria de Araras, Catch a Flight will be considered for the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap on March 7.

While Sammy Mandeville reduced the margin in the final furlong, Stevens said Catch a Flight was in control.

“I’m not sure this is far enough for him,” Stevens said of Catch a Flight. “Hopefully, he’s got a big future.”

Ray Sousa More than 1 year ago
Gary Stevens is a for me something rare..a jockey i actually like.now i know earlier in his career he may have used a buzzer and unfortunately for him brought the issue up in the infamous P.E.T.A video.i also know there are some allegations about THUNDER GULTCH in the derby having been buzzed by STEVENS although i very much doubt that it happened and after watching the video i cant see anything to change my mind.so lets get to the reasons i like this jockey first i dont think anybody would argue that he is one of the most talented jockeys we have had .he is also got a determination of steel which is why he was able to come back at the level he did.but to me he is a throw back to a time when you could rely on consistently good rides and some honesty. These new riders even the best ones are very different .ive seen top riders J LEZCANO,J CASTELLANO,J ROSARIO and even J VELASQUEZ give superior horses who looked to lay over their opposition pathetic rides and loose. LEZCANOS rides aboard WINTER MEMORIES where at times criminal.to the point of being replaced by J CASTELANO a bit like trading JESSE JAMES for MADDOFF...anyway the point is there are no more jockeys like CRIS MAcCARRON,JERRY BAILEY,PAT DAY...the new guys are all in the mode of ANGEL CORDEIRO just not as talented .but just aggressive dirty riders with no ethics.
Anna Villafane More than 1 year ago
You seem to need a shrink. Get over it, Latino riders like Cordero, JV , and JJ Castellano are head and shoulder above everyone else. They are smart, tactful and talented.
Tim Roberts More than 1 year ago
His best work was when he was a drunk on that TV show.
Blaine MacMillan More than 1 year ago
Try getting laid Timmy. You just might feel better about yourself. Miserable is what you sound like.
TEDK215 More than 1 year ago
wonder how many of them should have an * next to them for using buzzers. guess you have to be at the lavish dinner parties with dwl to know that.
Blaine MacMillan More than 1 year ago
Being fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through your life son.
TEDK215 More than 1 year ago
sure blaine.....lol, what a name.
Gary Peacock More than 1 year ago
Congratulations on another milestone Gary.
Steffi Babe Heart More than 1 year ago
guy is class
Michael More than 1 year ago
Gary thanks for making me a racing fan....It's been a long time since the old Longacres days..My daughter still has the goggles and signed program you gave her...
Cheryl Kleist More than 1 year ago
I hope to see you win many more in other countries as well as in the United States. I admire how you ride and strategy used in races and also care and concern for your mounts. You are my favorite jockey. I have been placing WIN bets on your races, too. Congrats for a well deserved racing mile stone. Adding up all races including those out- side the US, your wins are a more impressive 5,139. Was this a world record? Maybe we will get to see you ride in Dubai again on California Chrome! Oh, how I wish!!!
Harlan More than 1 year ago
He will never catch Russell Baze. He just seems unwilling to ride $4000 claimers, 6 times a day, 4 times a week. The world record will never be his.
CraigACantrell More than 1 year ago
Congratulations Mr. Stevens! You have had a tremendous career and have been a joy to watch ride, keep it up!