Jockey Profile of Gary Stevens
Two legends piloted the 2 best horses in the world on Nov. 4 in the 2016 Breeders' Cup Distaff. Mike Smith was aboard Songbird while Gary Stevens was aboard winner Beholder. The race got me thinking that it might be time to take a look at 5 of my favorite Gary rides. See below! If you have any different rides from the 5 I've listed, by all means, let me know!
Victory Gallop, 1998 Belmont StakesIt took impeccable timing for Gary Stevens aboard Victory Gallop to get the nose in front at the wire. Without Stevens' incredible talent, Bob Baffert may have won the Triple Crown 17 years before he did with American Pharoah in 2015. That's how great of a three-year-old Real Quiet was. A year before, Stevens had rode Silver Charm to wins in the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes. The 1998 Belmont Stakes, more than anything, shows how incredibly gifted Gary Stevens is.
Silver Charm, 1997 Kentucky DerbyPulpit, Free House and Captain Bodgit all finished behind Gary and Silver Charm in the 1997 Kentucky Derby. What's amazing about this race is that Gary chased a fast pace and still had enough for Captain Bodgit in the stretch. While watching it live, I thought the Florida Derby winning Captain Bodgit was going to be an easy winner. But, Stevens continued with the right hand whip on Silver Charm in one of the great Kentucky Derby races of the 1990's. It was an awesome ride to get to the wire first over such classy equines like Captain Bodgit, Free House and Pulpit.
Winning Colors, 1988 Kentucky DerbySure, Gary Stevens put Winning Colors on the lead right out of the gate in the 1988 Kentucky Derby. But it's not like Gary was taking it easy aboard D. Wayne Lukas's superstar filly. They ran the half in around :46. They ran the 3/4 in 1:11. The pace was swift. Winning Colors also beat the horse that would go down as Secretarait's greatest offspring, Preakness and Belmont winner Risen Star. Gary rationed Winning Colors' speed just enough to get to the finish line ahead of the terrific Forty Niner.
Beholder, 2016 Breeders' Cup DistaffThe best jockeys have impeccable timing. At the age of 53, the Idaho born Gary Stevens managed to get one more great race out of future Hall of Fame mare Beholder in the 2016 Breeders Cup Distaff. He didn't start moving Beholder until the absolute perfect time. It was a brilliant, unbelievable performance by both horse and jockey. Songbird and Mike Smith were too good to lose. I've said it before and I'll say it again, the 2016 Breeders Cup Distaff is one of the greatest races I've ever witnessed live.
War Chant, 2000 Breeders' Cup MileGary's ride aboard War Chant in the 2000 Breeders' Cup Mile still gives me chills. Stevens knew what kind of horse was underneath him in the 2000 BC Mile. He was in last place and had to mow all of them down in the stretch. The field, like it often is in the mile, was loaded. One of my favorite racehorses of all time, Ladies Din, was entered along with Forbidden Apple, Dansili, and King Cugat. King Cugat was the co-favorite in the race along with War Chant. What a ride!
Gary Stevens has let it be known that he wants to pick even more mounts in 2017 than he had in 2016. Based on his ride aboard Beholder in the Distaff, I can't imagine a trainer out there who wouldn't consider putting the great Gary Stevens aboard his or her horse.