Edited from track notes
Hall of Fame jockey and budding movie actor Gary Stevens, injured in last month's Arlington Million (gr. IT) on Aug. 17, is returning to Arlington Park for the first time since that troubled trip to ride European invader Hoh Buzzard in Saturday's grade III Pucker Up Stakes.
Hoh Buzzard, who races in the silks of internationally prominent Thoroughbred owner Gary Tanaka, is one of two European campaigners who have made the Atlantic crossing for Saturday's Pucker Up, which is restricted to grass favoring 3-year-old fillies.
Stevens, who suffered a collapsed lung and fractured vertebra when he fell from Gainsborough Farm's Storming Home after finishing in front in Arlington Million XXI, returned to riding less than three weeks after those injuries, but is coming back to the Northwest suburban Chicago oval for his first reappearance locally exactly four weeks after that spill.
Stevens is based in Southern California, where on July 27 he won his first stakes race since the injury aboard Tucked Away in the Fleet Treat Stakes at Del Mar.
Hoh Buzzard, who arrived at Arlington Tuesday, had not cleared quarantine Wednesday morning. The Irish-bred daughter of Alhaarth most recently finished second by three-quarters of a length in the group III Prix de la Nonette at Deauville Aug. 24. Previously she was victorious in the listed European Breeders Fund Upavon Fillies Stakes at Salisbury Aug. 13, the Weatherbys Bank Fillies' Rated Stakes Handicap at Goodwood July 30, and the European Breeders Fund Fillies' Handicap June 28.
However, it is Stevens, as a supporting actor in the recently released movie Seabiscuit
, who is the headline attraction Saturday, since his fame has now transcended his primary status as a world-class athlete. Stevens played the part of Hall of Fame jockey George Woolf in the Seabiscuit
movie, and his spectacular fall from Storming Home was international front page news.
Nevertheless, Stevens' accomplishments as a jockey are legendary. Born in Caldwell, Idaho, in 1963, Stevens was elected to the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame at Saratoga in 1997. Among Stevens' accomplishments at Arlington--despite Storming Home's disqualification from first in this summer's Million--are two Arlington Million victories.
Stevens has won the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) three times, the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) twice, the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) twice and eight Breeders' Cup races, and also boasts riding wins in the grade I Dubai World Cup and the group I Japan Cup.