Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak; Ted Williams batting .406;
Wilt Chamberlain scoring 100 points in a game; Woody Stephens winning
five Belmont Stakes in a row; and Kelso being named Horse of the Year
five straight times.
Add one more to the list of sports records not likely to be
broken: Gary Stevens winning the Santa Anita Derby nine times. Back in
the saddle again since coming out of retirement three months ago after a
seven-year absence, the 50-year-old Stevens could enhance his record if
his mount this year, Storm Fighter trained by Bruce Headley, wins the
Grade I, $750,000 test at 1 1/8 miles, worth 100 qualifying points to
the May 4 Kentucky Derby.
“I’m proud of it,” Stevens said of his nine wins. “I was proud
when I tied Shoemaker (at eight with Point Given in 2001). When I won my
first one (on the filly Winning Colors in 1988) I thought it was the
greatest thing on earth, that I’d won a Santa Anita Derby.
“Then to tie Shoe with eight . . . It’s cool that I’ve got nine,
but it would have been all right with me to just stay tied with Shoe at
eight. That’s great company to be in.”
After winning with Winning Colors, Stevens went on to capture
the Santa Anita Derby in 1990 (Mister Frisky), 1993 (Personal Hope),
1994 (Brocco), 1995 (Larry the Legend), 1998 (Indian Charlie), 1999
(General Challenge), 2001 (Point Given) and 2003 (Buddy Gil.
Asked if one stood above the others, Stevens was quick to respond.
“Winning Colors ran just a freakish race that day,” he said.
“Then she went on and won the Kentucky Derby. The whole conglomeration
started me on a roll for my entire career.
“The first (Santa Anita Derby win) was the coolest one. Larry
the Legend was a great race. He was a fighter . . . Buddy Gil, Mister
Frisky, Brocco, Personal Hope. Each win had its special thing, but
Winning Colors, that was the one.”
In other Santa Anita Derby news:
Bob Baffert said Thursday morning he plans to enter three horses
in the race he’s won six times: Flashback, Super Ninety Nine and Power
Super Ninety Nine, 11 ¼-length winner of a division of the
Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park Feb. 18, worked four furlongs on Santa
Anita’s fast main track Thursday in 47.20. Den’s Legacy, ticketed for
the Arkansas Derby on April 13, worked four furlongs for Baffert in a
bullet 47 seconds flat.
Doug O’Neill reports Sham Stakes winner Goldencents is “doing
great” as he readies for his rematch with San Felipe’s one-two
finishers, Hear the Ghost and Flashback. “He’ll work six furlongs
tomorrow,” the trainer said.
On Santa Anita Derby Day, Daily Racing Form presents a $750,000
guaranteed Late Pick 4; fans at Santa Anita will be offered a free Santa
Anita Derby T-shirt with paid admission, while supplies last; KROQ
presents Iration in concert; and there will be more than 50
microbrew/craft beer vendors, in addition to Premium Food Trucks.