Homeracing

Gary Stevens is Winning at Oaklawn

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D.S. Williamson

February 9th, 2018

The Ageless One, Gary Stevens, has taken his tack to Oaklawn Park. With only 46 rides as of Feb. 7 this year, Stevens has 6 wins, 8 second place, and 7 third place finishes. He's been a beast of a rider at Oaklawn.

It only figures to get better for Stevens, who at one time appeared to be on his way to a fruitful acting career. Below, I showcase 5 of Stevens' most memorable rides. He's truly one of the greatest jockeys, if not the greatest, to climb onto the back of a horse.



Victory Gallop - 1998 Belmont Stakes

A year before, Gary Stevens had rode Silver Charm, a Bob Baffert trained horse, to wins in both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. Touch Gold was slightly better than Silver Charm in the Belmont Stakes. If not for Touch Gold, Bob might have won the Triple Crown in 1998.

It's a crazy coincidence that Stevens kept Bob Baffert from winning the Triple Crown in 1998. Did Kent Desormeaux move too soon aboard Real Quiet? I don't think so. It's more like Gary Stevens gave one of the greatest rides in horse racing history.



Thunder Gulch - 1995 Kentucky Derby

For the 1995 Kentucky Derby, 19 horses showed up to the starting gate. Thunder Gulch had gone off as the 6/5 favorite in the Bluegrass Stakes at Keeneland. He had finished fourth in that Derby prep. Amazingly, the fourth place finish led to Thunder Gulch going off at 25 to 1 to win the 1995 Kentucky Derby.

The favorite was the D.Wayne Lukas trained entry of Serena's Song and Timber Country. D. Wayne dominated the Triple Crown in the early to mid-1990's. He was such a force in the 1995 Derby that not only did he train Timber Country and Serena's Song, he also trained Thunder Gulch.

Stevens knew exactly how much horse he had. The track played amazingly fast that day.  At the top of the stretch, when Gary made his move, both Serena's Song, part of the favored entry, and Talkin Man, another favorite, we're ahead of him. Talkin Man finished 12th. Serena's Song finished 16th.



1997 Kentucky Derby - Silver Charm

In 1997, Gary Stevens entered the hall of fame. The 1997 Derby field had only 13 horses enter. Still, 1997 might have been the deepest field in modern Derby history. Silver Charm, Pulpit, Captain Bodgit, Free House, Hello, and Concerto all went off at odds of around 10 to 1 or less. Silver Charm, Pulpit, Captain Bodgit, and Crypto Star went off at 5 to 1 or less. Captain Bodgit left the starting gate as the slight 3 to 1 favorite over Silver Charm, who was a 4 to 1 second choice.

Not only did Stevens have to get Silver Charm past rival Free House, whom had beaten him in the Santa Anita Derby, he also had to hold off the fantastic Captain Bodgit. Notice how Gary kept going to the right handed whip? Over, and over, and over again Stevens hit Silver Charm with that right handed whip to hold off the Captain.



2016 Breeders' Cup Distaff - Beholder

Beholder's victory in the 2016 Breeders' Cup Classic is still fresh in the minds of most horseplayers. The thing to notice about Stevens' ride aboard Beholder is how he didn't panic. After all, Mike Smith got away with easy fractions aboard one of the best fillies to ever race. Songbird looked like a sure winner at the top of the stretch. Heck, in the middle of the stretch, it appeared Songbird might still win the race.



2000 Breeders' Cup Mile - War Chant

Sure, War Chant went off the favorite in the 2000 Breeders' Cup Mile. But, it's never easy to win the BC Mile over the Turf. It's always a tough race. Unless you're name is Wise Dan, you're usually not going to dominate in the BC Mile. Gary provided an amazingly confident ride aboard War Chant in the 2000 BC Mile. He laid behind soft fractions. Then, he had to go wide. When Stevens asked War Chant the question, the Neil Drysdale trainee responded beautifully.

Gary Stevens' mounts have already earned over $1 million this year. Granted, $650,000 of that came from Giant Expectations finishing 9th in the Pegasus World Cup. Still, Stevens' 2018 is barely getting started. Plus, there's no doubt he picks up mounts on at least one Derby contender, and one top handicap horse.

Gary Stevens isn't going anywhere. The man's ageless.
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