The incident had certainly added tang to the race. The Deputy had won two stakes in January before running a game second, beaten only three quarters of a length, to highly touted Fusaichi Pegasus in the March 19 San Felipe Stakes. The colt was fit, and Sahadi wisely decided not to pressure him; she worked him only twice coming into the race.
As The Deputy drove past War Chant near midstretch, it was clear that she had tuned him just right. This led to that unforgettable scene after the race—with Baffert taking the barbs and Sahadi, who had heard them, dancing onto the crown of the track.
She knows her colt and what he needs. Indeed, she soon may become the first woman to train a Kentucky Derby winner. "I'm looking forward to this," she said.
As are all her many admirers.
An Early End to A Stellar Career
After all he has been through—the months of throbbing pain in his knees—jockey Gary Stevens has finally conceded that degenerative arthritis is prematurely ending his surpassing career. "It's hard when you've done something for 21 years and suddenly you can't do it anymore," Stevens said last week at Santa Anita. "I'm only 37, and it was just taken away. It's bone on bone now, a lot of poppin' and grindin' goin' on. And a lot of depression."
Only three years ago, in 1997, Stevens had it all—the smarts and style reminiscent of the old master, Eddie Arcaro, the movie-star smile and good looks and a reputation as the finest money rider in North America, if not the world. That was the year that Stevens, just voted into racing's Hall of Fame, won his third Kentucky Derby, on Silver Charm. But it was also the year doctors performed the first of three surgeries on his right knee. Though in increasing pain while crouching on horses, he did not yield a centimeter in the hottest winds of combat. In '98 he won the Dubai World Cup on Silver Charm as well as the Belmont on Victory Gallop, and that fall he won his fifth and sixth Breeders' Cup races.
Last summer, hoping that riding full time on soft grass might prolong his career, Stevens moved to England. But the tortuous, undulating courses—not to mention the damp, chilly weather—exacerbated his miseries. That notwithstanding, Stevens made his mark in Europe, winning 12 graded stakes, and had himself a royal ball. In the walking ring at Ascot last June, as Stevens was waiting to board a mount named Blueprint, the horse's owner instructed him to lie fourth until the final straight "Wait until about a furlong out to make your move," Queen Elizabeth II told him.
Recalls Stevens, "I did just what the Queen told me and won it. What a racing memory."
There were far fewer in his future than anyone might have imagined. He hobbled to the Breeders' Cup on Nov. 6 at Gulfstream Park. "That morning my knee was so swollen I couldn't bend it," he says. Still he rode Anees to a 2�-length win in the Cup Juvenile, his last major victory. On Dec. 26 at Santa Anita, following the third knee operation, he tried to come back, but the pain was too much.