One was Iron Peg, though when Stephens got him from the the English they were calling him Iron Pig. He arrived as a 4-year-old maiden in 1964, but by the end of the year he had won four out of five and beaten Kelso in the Suburban Handicap. Bald Eagle was the other. A failure in Europe, he became a handicap star in America. He's still the only horse ever to win consecutive Washington D.C. Internationals. He won the Suburban at four. At five, he won the Metropolitan Mile in 1:33[3/5], a track record.
In 1959, the year Bald Eagle won $278,357, Cain Hoy Stable earned $742,081. That Christmas, Guggenheim's chauffeur arrived at Stephens' front door and delivered a smoked turkey, a check—it was for $75,000—and a card, with a message from Guggenheim: "We've had a good year, but we don't rest on our laurels...." To Stephens, that was classic Guggenheim: "The captain, you know, never looked back."
They parted in 1965, amicably, and for a while Stephens toyed with the notion of taking on just a few horses in a kind of semiretirement. He had some off years, for him, but by the early '70s he was back. His public stable, stocked by a wealthy clientele, was earning more than $700,000 a year in purses.
In 1974, he won the 100th Kentucky Derby with Cannonade, and since then has been turning up with runners by the handfuls, the champions aside. He has won two Belmont Stakes in a row, with Conquistador Cielo in 1982 and Caveat last year, and those fillies have kept coming to hand for him, one after another: Sensational, White Star Line, Terpsichorist, Number, Trove, Smart Heiress, Dame Mysterieuse, Bemissed.
Now there is this colt, the one standing in Stall 48 at Hialeah, coming to the door and pricking his ears as Stephens briskly approaches. Stephens stops and steps back for a moment. He smiles broadly, a 70-year-old kid, full of the nearly inexpressible wonder, the limitless possibilities, the way he was when he worked those horses at Havre de Grace in the dark in the rain.
"That's The Bag!" he says. "Look at him! Doesn't he look grand? A big, grand looking horse. Look at this horse. You never see a rib showing. He's a perfect horse to train. You can do anything you want with him. In all my life, he's the best I've had."