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Slim Shadey & Stevens Steal San Marcos

Like a shot out of a cannon, Slim Shadey and Gary Stevens sprung out of post position 11 and seized command of Saturday’s Grade II, $150,000 San Marcos Stakes at Santa Anita and made every pole a winning one, prevailing by one length over 7-2 favorite Interaction while getting 1 ¼ miles on turf in 1:59.17, and providing Hall of Famer Stevens with his first stakes win in a comeback that began on Jan. 6.

A front-running winner of last year’s San Marcos, Slim Shadey, trained by Simon Callaghan, came off a disappointing sixth-place run as the 3-2 favorite in the Grade II San Gabriel Stakes on Jan. 13—a race in which the 5-year-old English-bred gelding by Val Royal was taken off the pace going 1 1/8 miles on turf.

“He went out, he relaxed, and Gary gave him a nice long rein and that’s the way the horse likes to be ridden,” said Callaghan, 29. “It was perfect. After the first couple of furlongs, I kind of said to myself, ‘Well, there’re no excuses from here.’ It was an ideal situation and Gary did a great job. He just let him relax and that’s the key to this horse.”

Slim Shadey set fractions of 24.19, 48.20, 1:12.47 and 1:35.80. Off at 5-1, he paid $13.40, $7.00 and $5.40.

Owned and bred by Phil Cunningham, Slim Shadey picked up $90,000 for his efforts in the San Marcos, increasing his earnings to $613,850. His record now stands at 26-5-4-0.

Stevens, who turns 50 on March 6, had two wins and 11 seconds from 33 mounts coming into the San Marcos and was riding “Slim” for the first time.

“When I worked him the other morning, it seemed like the horse was happy,” said Stevens. “I just wanted to stay out of his way and let him be his own man, and that’s exactly what he is…I haven’t had a lot of horses sprint home like he did in the last 30 years going a mile and a quarter, so it was a great feeling.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling thanks to Simon and the whole team over there for giving me the opportunity on this horse. I’ve had a bad case of seconditus. I knew things would turn around and this is a good race to have them turn around in.”

Favored Interaction was taken far off the early pace from his rail post position and rallied strongly under Joe Talamo but never threatened the winner, finishing 2 ¼ lengths in front of 7-1 shot All Squared Away and Gomez.

“I got through on the rail pretty much the whole way but the winner had things pretty easy up there on the lead,” said Talamo. “He’s a nice horse too. I was proud of my horse. He ran a good race.”

Interaction paid $5.20 and $3.60.

All Squared Away sat mid-pack early in the field of 12, engaged the winner with a quarter mile to go, but was third best, finishing three quarters of a length in front of Fire With Fire and Martin Garcia.

“That horse (Slim Shadey) is deadly when he makes the lead, when he’s able to cruise up there like that,” said Gomez. “…Nobody went up there and messed with him.”

When asked where Slim Shadey would run next, Callaghan said that he would be pointed to the Grade I Woodford Reserve at 1 1/8 miles on turf, on Kentucky Derby Day at Churchill Downs, May 4.



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