11/12/2016 6:58PM

Stevens ties Shoemaker in record books by winning Let It Ride with Defiantly

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Benoit & Associates
Gary Stevens wins his 94th stakes at Del Mar with 13-1 outsider Defiantly in the Let It Ride.

DEL MAR, Calif. – Gary Stevens had a very good day on Saturday at Del Mar.

 Stevens, aboard the longest shot on the board in the $80,445 Let It Ride Stakes for 3-year-olds, produced Defiantly at just the right time and rallied from last to first in the six-horse field to win the day’s feature with a 13-1 upset.

 The victory was the 94th in a stakes for Stevens at Del Mar, tying him for sixth all-time here with a guy he idolized when he first came around, Bill Shoemaker.

 “What an honor that is,” Stevens said, breaking into a wide grin.

 Stevens could not have done it on Defiantly, though, without bringing to fore all his years of horsemanship. Defiantly was so wound up before the one-mile turf race that Stevens decided to abandon the pre-race strategy of going to the lead, and chose to give Defiantly an extended warm-up to calm him down.

 “I had to take the edge off him,” he said.

 It worked. Defiantly ($29.60), covered up near the back of the pack early on, rallied powerfully to catch Mittersill in deep stretch and win by a neck, with Camino Del Paraiso another half-length back in third after encountering traffic trouble for much of the stretch.

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 Curlin Rules, favored at 8-5, faded to fourth after setting the early pace, then came Little Scotty and Barhanpour.

 Defiantly covered one mile on firm turf in 1:34.80, with a final quarter-mile around 23 seconds flat.

 “He came with a nice turn of foot the last three-sixteenths,” Stevens said.

 Defiantly, a colt by Exchange Rate, beat maidens here during the summer. This was his second start since then, during which he changed trainers, with owner Mick Ruis moving the colt to Craig Dollase after splitting professionally with his daughter, Shelbe.

 The win was the second in seven starts for Defiantly, whom Ruis acquired privately during the summer after he made his first four starts on the East Coast with trainer Jason Servis.

 “He’s got the mind of a 2-year-old,” Stevens said. “But with his physique, and his beautiful action, he should only move forward with maturity.”