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Longtime trainer Herb Stevens dies at 96

Herbert K. “Herb” Stevens, a longtime Kentucky-based trainer who guided Rockhill Native to an Eclipse Award as the top 2-year-old of 1979, died Saturday morning of a heart attack in a Lexington, Ky., hospital. He was 96.

Stevens, who long was admired for his work with young horses and was known as a consummate “Kentucky hardboot,” retired from training in 1996 after more than a half-century in the sport. His all-time stable star was Harry A. Oak’s Rockhill Native, the little gelding who was fifth as the 2-1 favorite in the 1980 Kentucky Derby and ran third in the Belmont Stakes five weeks later.

Chris Crowe, his assistant for 14 years, said: “You had to know the man to understand him. As far as I’m concerned, he’s the greatest guy who’s ever been in this game.”

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