Stevens Returns to Win With Excess Summer

(from Hollywood Park report)
Jockey Gary Stevens made a successful return from a seven-week hiatus Saturday, guiding Excess Summer to a 3 1/2-length win in the 20th running of the $107,900 On Trust Handicap for California breds at Hollywood Park.

Riding for the first time since Breeders' Cup day on Oct. 25, Stevens picked up four mounts on Saturday after multiple spills Friday kept several jockeys off their mounts. Stevens, who was recuperating from injuries himself, replaced injured Julie Krone as the rider on Excess Summer.

"Strange day," Stevens said. "I came back to ride just one horse (Cozie Advantage, third in the fifth race) and we didn't know if that race would fill or not, then I show up here and wind up riding five horses on my first day back.

"This isn't the way you want to pick up stake winners. It's been a rough, rough year on jocks with bad falls. And Julie's career has kind of paralleled mine here, it seems like, the last five or six years. It seems like every time I get back up and rolling, something happens to her and vice versa. I just hope she is alright and can come back and perform like she has been the last eight or nine months."

Excess Summer dueled for the lead down the backstretch, then pulled clear out of the turn to hit the wire going away. Trained by Jeff Mullins, Excess Summer carried 119 pounds and covered the 7 1/2 furlongs on the main track in 1:27. Sent off as the third choice in a field of 11, the 3-year-old gelding paid $11, $5.60 and $4.20.

Green Team, ridden by Mike Smith at 119 pounds, was second and paid $4.40 and $3.20. Kedington, with Tyler Baze aboard at 114 pounds, got up for third and paid $5.60 to show. The 2-1 post time favorite Hot Market finished fifth.

Excess Summer has won six races in 10 career starts for $294,261. The In Excess gelding won three consecutive stakes over the summer before finishing ninth, beaten eight lengths, in the Seabiscuit Handicap at Santa Anita in his last start. He earned $64,740 for owners Conboy, McClanahan and Wineman, et al.

"The horse is easy to ride and I just told Gary that if he could get a breather sometime during the race he would run hard in the stretch," Mullins said. "This horse really loves the stretch. This horse is just getting better and better."

(Chart, Equibase)