Gary Stevens and Santa Anita Derby contender Candy Boy won the Robert B. Lewis Stakes on February 8.

Gary Stevens and Santa Anita Derby contender Candy Boy won the Robert B. Lewis Stakes on February 8.

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Stevens Optimistic About 10th SA Derby Win

Hall of Fame rider likes post for Candy Boy in Santa Anita' $1 million event April 5.

Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens hopes to add to his record of nine Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) victories when he rides 9-5 morning line second choice Candy Boy in the $1 million race April 5.

Stevens was happy when he learned that the son of Candy Ride , winner of the Robert B. Lewis Stakes (gr. II), drew post 6 for Saturday's 1 1/8-mile event for 3-year-olds at Santa Anita Park.

"I'm real pleased with my draw," Stevens said. "I drew the one hole with Candy Boy in the Lewis, and it was OK. The trip turned out good (winning by a half-length), but this gives me more options.

"Obviously, California Chrome  has more speed than I do, but I'll know where he's at. I was going to know where he's at anyway, but I like where I've drawn."

Added Candy Boy's trainer, John Sadler: "It's a good draw. Going a mile and an eighth, I don't think the draw's that important for anybody. There's plenty of run to the first turn and it's a small field, so we're very happy with the draw.

"We're very excited. We should have a good crowd."

Meanwhile, a second Hall of Fame rider, Mike Smith, goes into the Derby aboard Hoppertunity feeling positive about the colt's future.

"He has a lot of ability, and what I like about him most is it looks like he's got room to grow," said Smith, who won the Rebel Stakes (gr. II) in his only ride on the Bob Baffert-trained son of Any Given Saturday March 15. "He hasn't peaked yet, which is good.

"You don't want him to peak last month; you want him to start getting ready now, and, of course, for the next one (May 3 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands). He also galloped out really strong (after the Rebel).

Hoppertunity, breaking from post 3 as the 3-1 morning line third choice, will be trying the 1 1/8-mile distance for the first time Saturday.

"He gave me the indication that distance wasn't going to be a problem, so all is good. He might be a horse coming around at the right time. I sure hope so. We'll see."

California Chrome, the 6-5 favorite after his smashing 7 1/4-length win in the San Felipe Stakes (gr. II), galloped on the Santa Anita main track and schooled in the paddock Friday morning under the direction of trainer Art Sherman's son, Alan.

Victory in the Santa Anita Derby is worth 100 Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the winner. Second is worth 40 points, third, 20, and fourth, 10.