What had Cauthen learned from going through the slump?
"Two weeks ago I was ready to quit Santa Anita and go back East and ride at Aqueduct," Cauthen said. "I didn't want to do it, but everything was going wrong. My car was packed, and I was going to stop off back home in Kentucky for a couple of days and think things out. Lenny [agent Lenny Goodman] wanted me to go back and I thought that might be the right thing to do. I went out to the racetrack the morning after we made the decision to return to New York, and several trainers came up to me and said, "Don't. Things will change.'
"One of the first people to come to me was [trainer] Jack Van Berg. He sought me out and pulled me aside. He told me it would be wrong to just quit when I was going terrible. He was going bad himself at the time, but he wasn't pulling up and leaving. I decided to stay in California and see the slump end."
When he broke his slump on Father Duffy, Cauthen was asked why he brandished his whip after crossing the finish line, an unusually flamboyant gesture for this poised young man. "I've only done it once before." he said. "I did it after Affirmed won the Belmont, after we won the Triple Crown. I normally don't do things like that. I knew before I started riding that times like this would probably happen. I guess I was lucky I didn't start out with a losing streak.
"People can expect too much of anyone. I know that an awful lot is expected of me and from me because of those two great years I had. Maybe because they expect so much of me they tend to get down on me real quick. I guess that's normal, but I'm normal, too. I know that when Affirmed lost he didn't lose because I rode bad. I rode Affirmed as well as Steve Cauthen can ride him. Will I root against him in the Strub? I'll root for him until I have to ride against him. I had a couple of chances to pick up other mounts in the Strub but turned them down. I thought that was the normal thing to do." (Affirmed also broke his five-race losing streak, winning the Strub, with Pincay up, by 10 lengths over Johnny's Image.)
There are 52 jockeys riding at the Santa Anita meeting. Half of them have not found the winner's circle yet. "By the time this meeting ends," Cauthen said last week, "I intend to be in the top 10. I'll work harder than anybody. I had the attention when things were going good and the attention when things went bad. The bad is over now."