From the Paulick Report
Saturday was a big day for three of Del Mar’s quartet of resident Hall of Fame riders.
Gary Stevens notched his first victory since undergoing knee replacement surgery when he got Grand Yodeler home for trainer Mike Puype in the first race.
Alex Solis got career victory No. 4,997 aboard Sayes So for trainer Richard Mandella in the final race of the day here.
And in Vinton, La., Mike Smith won the $1 million Delta Downs Jackpot on Ocho Ocho Ocho two races after taking the $200,000 Treasure Chest stakes aboard Yahilwa. Both horses are trained by Jim Cassidy.
“Feels pretty good,” Stevens said after the race. “I wasn’t supposed to be riding yet, but I really wanted to get back.”
Stevens, 51, had the surgery on July 25. He made his riding comeback on Oct. 31 in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, finishing fifth on Sivoliere. He was 0-for-8 in mounts at Santa Anita and Del Mar before Saturday’s breakthrough.
Solis got within three of the 5,000 career win mark with a wire-to-wire guiding of Sayes So. He has one scheduled mount Sunday, Love Blind for trainer Art Sherman in the second race. Love Blind provided Solis with win No. 4,996 in the first race here on the November 8 card.
Asked if Smith had ridden perfectly to his instructions Saturday in Louisiana, trainer Cassidy laughed and then said: “He certainly did. What can you say about him? He’s one of a kind.”
Smith had ridden Yahilwa twice at Del Mar last summer. Ocho Ocho Ocho had been ridden by Joe Talamo in two wins at Santa Anita, but Cassidy called on Smith when Talamo opted for another Jackpot entrant that was on the also-eligible list but didn’t make the race.