Gary Stevens: Who Would You Ride in the Derby?

Gary Stevens | Horsephotos

The TDN has polled some of the top riders in the history of the sport and asked them to answer this simple question: If given a choice of any of the 20 starters in the GI Kentucky Derby who would you choose to ride? We kick off the series with Hall of Famer and three-time Kentucky Derby winner Gary Stevens.

Stevens: “I've never been so confused. There are eight, nine, 10 horses that if I were still riding and didn't have a mount and they called me up and asked if I wanted to ride this horse I'd say, 'Hell, yes.' Off of what I have seen, it would either be Omaha Beach (War Front) or Game Winner (Candy Ride {Arg}), but I am going to go with Game Winner. Though, I reserve the right to change my mind after seeing his latest work. He's the 2-year-old champion and he reminds me a lot of Silver Charm in 1997. He took a couple of races to get to his peak and he peaked on Derby Day. That's what I'm seeing with Game Winner. I think he needed a couple of wake up calls and he'll stay the mile-and-a-quarter.

Yes, Omaha Beach beat him in the Rebel, but I think Bob [Baffert] had Joel [Rosario] chase after the lead horse because they were worried about him. That's what reminded me so much of Silver Charm. Bob had me chase after the filly [Sharp Cat] in the Santa Anita Derby and we ran second in the Santa Anita Derby, but I came back with a big smile on my face. I knew that the race had gotten him to fitness peak that he needed to be. That race really served its purpose. I think Game Winner will move up off his preps more than any other horse.”

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