Stevens back with a winner
The comeback of American Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens is complete.
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A winner of three Kentucky Derbies and eight Breeders' Cup races, Stevens emerged from a seven-year hiatus to win Saturday's first race at Santa Anita aboard the Tom Proctor-trained filly, Branding.
"You can consider me a full-time rider," said Stevens who has been doubling as an analyst on HRTV and will turn 50 on March 6.
"They were getting with it the first quarter of a mile and I thought they might come back to me. My filly was traveling real well around the turn. She didn't really accelerate coming into the stretch but they stopped pretty good.
"I worked out quite a few horses this morning and the track, because of the wind that we had and the real dry conditions, was perfect for snow, but not exactly a racetrack. It was a little on the cuppy side and tiring."
Branding, a 3-year-old Kentucky-bred filly by Street Sense, was Stevens' third mount in a comeback that began at Santa Anita on January 6.
With Saturday's win, Stevens now has 4,889 in a remarkable career that has also included a record nine Santa Anita Derby wins, two wins in the Preakness, three Belmonts and, at the time of his retirement in November 2005, $221,212,704 in purse money-won.
Stevens is chalked up to ride four horses on Sunday at Santa Anita, including Tale of a Champion, who is scheduled to run in the Grade II, $150,000 San Gabriel Stakes for older horses at 1 1/8 miles on turf. The San Gabriel has been carded as the eighth on a nine-race card and Tale of a Champion is 8-1 on the morning line.