Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens’ second comeback began with a third-place finish at Santa Anita last Sunday, and he’ll be even more active in the saddle this weekend.
Claiming that his chronically sore knees felt strong and stable enough to make a limited return to riding, with an emphasis on select races and horses, Stevens will step up his game this Sunday, when he has four mounts at Santa Anita, including Tale of a Champion in the Grade II San Gabriel.
In the sixth race on the card last Sunday, a one-mile turf claiming race, he rode Jebrica to a one-length lead before being caught near the wire.
“I thought, ‘Man, this is going to be a storybook comeback’ ” Stevens told The Associated Press. “It wasn’t meant to be, but it was close enough. That’s the first time I’ve knuckled down on one in seven years, and it felt good.”
“Gary looked good and it was fun to have him back in the jocks’ room,” said Aaron Gryder, who rode the winner, Maybe Tuesday.
Stevens, who turns 50 in March, plans to juggle his TV work with HRTV and NBC Sports while riding.
He had one ride Friday, finishing fifth on 8-1 shot Readyforhercloseup in the third race, and has one mount today.
TEN MOST WANTED DIES
Ten Most Wanted, the 2003 Travers winner, died on Tuesday at the British Mist Breeding Station in Panama.
The 13-year-old Deputy Commander horse had arrived at the facility from Magali Farms in Santa Ynez, Calif., last November after being sold for stud duty.
Second to Empire Maker in the 2003 Belmont, as Funny Cide’s Triple Crown bid was thwarted, Ten Most Wanted went on to win the Travers for trainer Wally Dollase and an ownership group that included Paul Reddam.
He beat Peace Rules by 41⁄2 lengths in the Travers.
Ten Most Wanted is the sire of multiple stakes winners Lady On the Run and Tenth Power.
Jockey Calvin Borel’s pursuit of his 5,000th career win will have to wait a little longer.
With 4,999 wins, he was scheduled to come back from a weeks-long vacation when Oaklawn Park opened on Friday.
But Borel suffered a minor fracture in his wrist Tuesday, and won’t be riding for at least 18 days.
LOOSE AT LAUREL
Commuters traveling on U.S. Route 1 in North Laurel, Md., on Friday morning saw something they likely won’t ever forget, a loose horse heading south without its rider.
Bullet Catcher, a 4-year-old gelding from the Jerry Robb stable, tossed jockey Jeremy Rose while heading back to the barn after a morning workout and got loose.
The son of Strong Hope then made his way out of the stable gate, made a left on Whiskey Bottom Road and another left onto Route 1 before being caught, uninjured, after a 1.6-mile journey, part of which was captured on video by jockey Abel Castellano on his phone as he drove behind the horse.
“You think you’ve seen it all,” former rider Mark Rosenthal, who co-owns the gelding, told the Maryland Jockey Club.
“I had finished working a horse and was coming to the jocks’ room when I saw a horse run by heading out of the stable gate,” Castellano said. “I decided to follow the horse, and maybe when he stopped I could catch him.
“All of a sudden, we got to Route 1 and there was a red light. I saw the cars driving by and I said ‘Oh my God, we’re going to have an accident,’ but at that moment, it changed to a green light to make a left, and the horse just made a left.”
Castellano said he and other drivers continued to follow the horse as it ran 30 miles per hour, which Castellano shows on his speedometer.
“Finally, he slowed down in front of the Chrysler dealership almost to Main Street, and we were able to catch him,” he said. “The story had a happy ending, but it was scary.”
Castellano’s video was posted on YouTube under the title “Loose Horse On US Route 1 01-11-13.”
Trainer Charles “Snake” Frock was also part of the group that caught the Maryland-bred, who has one win and three on-the-board finishes in six lifetime starts.
“I have never seen anything like it, and I have been at the racetrack for more than 50 years,” Frock said. “My trailer was full with hay, and I had another horse in the van. When we finally caught him, we were able to bring him back to the track in my van. I told Robb later, ‘It’s unreal the horse galloped out the gate and all the way to Main Street on the blacktop and never shredded a shoe.’ God was on his side.”
Robb said Bullet Catcher had some abrasions on his feet, but he would not know the full extent of any injuries for a few days.
Entries will close at 1 p.m. on Sunday for Starlight Racing’s sweepstakes for two tickets to next weekend’s Eclipse Awards ceremony and events at Gulfstream Park.
The prize package includes two tickets to the Eclipse Awards and admission to the “Celebration of the Thoroughbred” cocktail party on Friday.
This event will benefit Gulfstream Park’s Thoroughbred
Aftercare Program and will be highlighted by live, silent and online auctions featuring breeding opportunities, travel packages and the art of award-winning photographer Barbara Livingston. Jack and Laurie Wolf have donated stallion seasons to Harlan’s Holiday, Keyed Entry, and Thunder Moccasin as part of this event.
Enter by visiting and “liking” Starlight’s Facebook page and completing the entry form.
For questions regarding this Sweepstakes, please contact Elizabeth Ovelman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Starlight also announced a new partnership opportunity for 2013, StarLadies Racing, which will be limited to female racing enthusiasts only and will purchase a small group of fillies.
This partnership is the brainchild of Barbara Lucarelli and Laurie Wolf, two of the founding partners in Starlight Racing.
StarLadies Racing will consist of six to 10 partners and approximately six fillies. Barbara and Laurie will serve as managing partners, and Donna Barton Brothers will facilitate communication between partners.
As with Starlight Racing’s core partnership, all horses will be selected from the three premier yearling sales, July Fasig-Tipton, Saratoga Select and September Keeneland.
AROUND THE TRACKS
Pennsylvania Derby winner Handsome Mike, fourth to Paynter in the Haskell and ninth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, is the 9-2 co-second choice in the San Fernando at Santa Anita today.
He’ll face a deep field that includes four from Bob Baffert, led by Fed Biz, who was eighth in the BC Dirt Mile.
On Sunday at Santa Anita, Grade I Shoemaker Mile winner Jeranimo will face six in the San Gabriel, including multiple Grade II winner Slim Shadey. . . .
Purple Egg, undefeated in three starts, will make his belated 2013 debut in the Pasco for 3-year-olds at Tampa Bay Downs today.
He missed the Gulfstream Park Derby on New Year’s Day with a mile illness. . . .
Temperance Hill winner Our Entourage is the 8-5 favorite in the Coyote Lakes at Aqueduct.
The card also includes the Ruthless for fillies, where Little Rocket (5-2) is shooting for her third win from three starts. . . .
The Hal’s Hope at Gulfstream on Sunday features a rematch of Harlan’s Holiday Stakes winner Csaba and Canada-based Delegation, who is trained by Mark Casse.
Casse also has Pool Play in the Hal’s Hope in his first start since finishing eighth in the BC Classic.
The 2011 Stephen Foster winner, who came back from retirement last year to win the Hawthorne Gold Cup, is prepping for the Donn Handicap.
HERE AND THERE
The first reported offspring by 2010 Belmont and 2011 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Drosselmeyer was a chestnut colt foaled on Tuesday at Denali Stud near Paris, Ky. The colt is the second foal out of the winning Hennessy mare Heather’s Angel. . . .
Nick Nicholson, the recently retired president and CEP of Keeneland, will receive the Eclipse Award of Merit for his distinguished leadership and his outstanding achievements on behalf of the racing industry.
Prior to Keeneland, Nicholson was executive vice president and executive director of The Jockey Club. . . .
The non-profit fan advocacy group ThoroFan will hold its inaugural awards brunch at the Eclipse Awards, at which it will honor Mrs. Patrice Wolfson, her late husband, Louis, and their Triple Crown winner horse, Affirmed.
The award is given to someone who has contributed significantly to helping energize the racing fan base.