Jockey Gary Stevens enjoys memorable day at Del Mar

HorseRacingNation.com
August 21, 2016 11:39am

The two races leading up to the TVG Pacific Classic could have been titled “The Gary Stevens Show.”
 
The Hall of Fame rider, 53, notched a what once looked impossible come-from-behind victory on Coldspell for Eoin Harty in the seventh, edging My Prince Harry and Stewart Elliott in the final strides. In the next race, the Grade II $250,000 Del Mar Handicap, Stevens sensed a slow pace, even for a 1 3/8-mile race, stole away to a six length lead through three-quarters of a mile, and saved just enough to stave off a flying Metaboss and Rafael Bejarano by a nose at the wire.
 
“Coldspell, I liked going into the race, Eoin had done a great job of preparing him,” Stevens said. “But the ground broke out from under him at the start, he stumbled and (My Prince Harry) came over when my horse got up, he clipped heels. I thought ‘Well, there that goes.’”
 
Rather than engage in what turned out to be a draining pace battle, Stevens settled his horse behind.
 
“I hit the turn thinking I could pass a few horses,” Stevens said. “Then when I swung him out at the eighth pole, I thought ‘Man, I could win this thing.’” Which he did.
 
“That was pretty cool for Eoin and the Godolphin representatives here, and it got me in a good mood for the next race,” Stevens said.
 
The Del Mar Handicap ride aboard Ashleyluvssugar:
 
“When you’re riding horses that cooperate with you, it makes my job a lot easier,” Stevens said. “Peter (Eurton) did a great training job and ‘Ashley’ ran his eyeballs out.
 
“When we went past the finish line the first time we were going too slow, and in those caliber of races it’s really difficult to go gate to wire. But Pete and his crew did a great job having him ready.”
 
Then came the TVG Pacific Classic and a runner-up with defending champion Beholder?
 
“I’m really proud of her,” Stevens said. “That was a phenomenal race for California Chrome. The race for the win was over 50 yards out of the gate. He was cruising, for him, and I couldn’t risk going up to challenge and then not getting a piece of it. I’m happy with her performance. Nobody was going to beat him yesterday.”
 

 
JOCKEY NEWS: ESPINOZA’S OFF TO JAPAN; SOLIS’ FATHER/SON BATTLE SET
 
Jockey Victor Espinoza will not ride here next week. He’s off to Japan to participate in the World All Star Jockey competition next weekend at Sapporo Race Course.
 
Produced by the Japan Racing Association – the group that presentedSaturday’s Del Mar Handicap – the competition features jockeys from around the globe over a two-day period.
 
“He finished second in it in 2001,” said Espinoza’s agent, Brian Beach. “He’s been offered the opportunity again the last couple years but this year the timing is better, coming after the Pacific Classic.”
 
Espinoza will resume riding here on Wednesday, August 31. He has two mounts on the Sunday program and enters the day with a meeting line of 53 starts, 13-8-8 for a win rate of 25 percent and in-the-money mark of 55 percent. The highest win percentage and co-highest in-the-money of the meeting.
 
An interesting aspect of the third race on Wednesday’s card. Hall of Fame jockey Alex Solis and his apprentice son Austin will be riding against each other, Alex on Never Say Try for Jerry Hollendorfer and Austin on Pulla Train for J. Eric Kruljac.
 
Equibase statistics show Alex with 5,031 career wins from 33,948 mounts and Austin with 12 from 277 starts.

Source: Del Mar Thoroughbred Club

 

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