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Stevens Eyes More SA Derby Success


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 Broker.

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.


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