Stevil has not won a race since his maiden score at Belmont in October of 2007, but trainer Nick Zito has the grey son of Maria’s Mon on track for a start in the May 17 Preakness Stakes (gr. I). Should the Robert LaPenta runner make it to Baltimore, Zito would tie Max Hirsch for second on the all-time starter list among trainers in the Preakness, having saddled 19 in that event. D. Wayne Lukas leads all trainers with 32 starters.
Although Stevil seems like a longshot to give Zito a second Preakness victory – the Hall of Fame trainer won the 1996 edition with Louis Quatorze – Zito calls the colt a consistent runner who has never run a bad race. Indeed, from six starts Stevil’s worst finish was a fifth-place effort in the Louisiana Derby (gr. II), when he broke from the one hole and was taken back. In his last start, the April 12 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I), he came running late on the inside with a huge move after being bumped at the start, but ran out of time to catch the frontrunners.
“He was closing a lot of ground in the Blue Grass; he came running at the end,” said LaPenta’s racing manager, Ernie Richards. “Nick thinks this is a good spot for him; he likes the way he’s coming around and knows he can cover the distance, so we’ll look for him to come from off the pace and if Big Brown doesn’t fire, maybe we will.”
The first foal out of the stakes-winning Storm Creek mare Company Storm, Stevil was bred in Kentucky by John E. Piehl II. He was sold to LaPenta’s Whitehorse Stables for $110,000 at the Keeneland September yearling sale in 2006 and was a $300,000 RNA at the Fasig-Tipton Florida select sale of 2-year-olds in training the next year. His maiden score at 6 ½ furlongs is the best effort of a 1-1-1 record, with earnings of $95,865. The Blue Grass and the Louisiana Derby were his only starts in stakes competition.