06/22/2016 1:30PM

Stevens to ride Win the Space in Gold Cup

Benoit & Associates
Gary Stevens (above) takes over for Mike Smith on Win the Space in the Gold Cup.

ARCADIA, Calif. – For a brief time this week, Win the Space was without a jockey for Saturday’s Grade 1 Gold Cup at Santa Anita.

Trainer George Papaprodromou had a commitment from Mike Smith, but when the Grade 1 winner Hoppertunity joined the field, Smith switched allegiances. Win the Space was not without a partner for long. Papaprodromou was quickly able to gain jockey Gary Stevens.

“It worked out,” Papaprodromou said. “We’re going from one Hall of Famer to another Hall of Famer. I had Gary for a second call.”

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Win the Space will be a longshot in the $500,000 Gold Cup at Santa Anita, the richest race of the meeting. The Gold Cup is run at 1 1/4 miles and is part of the Breeders’ Cup Win and You’re In program, offering a fees-paid berth in the $6 million BC Classic here on Nov. 5.

Owned by Rustin Kretz, Win the Space will start in his third Grade 1 race on Saturday. He was sixth behind American Pharoah in the Arkansas Derby in April 2015 and last of 14 in the Hollywood Derby on turf at Del Mar last November.

Win the Space won his 2016 debut in an optional claimer at 1 1/16 miles on May 15.

“He came out of the race in good shape,” Papaprodromou said.

With a Gold Cup field that includes the Grade 1 winners Hard Aces, Hoppertunity, and Melatonin, Papaprodromou knows Win the Space must be brilliant Saturday to have any chance.

Asked if a top-three finish was realistic, Papaprodromou said, “I’d be happy.”

Papaprodromou has already produced one longshot stakes win this month. Mr Roary paid $78 when he won the Rainbow Stakes on turf as a maiden last Saturday for Kretz. Papaprodromou said that Mr Roary will be pointed for the $100,000 Oceanside Stakes for 3-year-olds on turf at Del Mar on July 15, the opening day of the track’s summer meeting.