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.”