Grade 1 winner Buddy Gil worked six furlongs in a bullet 1:12 2/5 over Santa Anita's fast main track Sunday morning with Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens aboard. The move was the best of 14 who went the distance on the day.
Stevens hasn't ridden any races since the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships at Santa Anita on Oct. 25 citing travel commitments abroad to promote the movie "Seabiscuit" as well as time to work on his budding acting career. However, Stevens was at Santa Anita working horses on both Saturday and Sunday this past weekend.
Mullins wouldn't say if Stevens would be aboard Buddy Gil in the gelding's comeback race, the Dec. 26 Malibu Stakes (gr. I), but remained hopeful that the veteran reinsman would be back in time.
"He's his mount if he wants to ride him; if he doesn't retire first," Mullins joked. "He hasn't said for sure, but I'm hoping."
Buddy Gil will have two more workouts before the Malibu and will likely have Stevens aboard for both, Mullins said.
"I'll probably get Gary to work him (in both works)," Mullins said. 'They do make a great team and maybe it'll convince Gary to ride him."
Stevens was aboard Buddy Gil when the Kentucky-bred son of Eastern Echo and the For Really mare Really Rising won the Baldwin Stakes (gr. IIIT), San Felipe Stakes (gr. II) and Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) before a sixth-place finish in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) earlier this year. The Desperado Stables color-bearer has been away from action since the Run for the Roses after undergoing two surgeries to remove chips from both knees.
Overall Buddy Gil has won half of his 10 career starts with a second and a third for earnings of $729,455.
The seven-furlong Malibu, restricted to 3-year-olds, carries a purse of $500,000 and is the first leg of the three-race Strub Stakes series for newly turned 4-year-olds. The series also includes the San Fernando Breeders' Cup Stakes (gr. II) Jan 10 and the Strub Stakes (gr. II) on Feb. 7. Mullins said Buddy Gil is expected to start in all three events.
Also working Sunday was Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) winner Action This Day, who logged a half-mile in an easy :51 4/5. The son of Kris S. and the Trempolino mare Najecam isn't expected to start again until next year's Santa Catalina Stakes (gr. II) at Santa Anita on Jan. 17.