"He's made a steady progression from race to race, getting bigger and stronger, and I'm anxious to see how he will do Saturday," Stevens said Tuesday during an NTRA teleconference. "The mental aspect of a horse is just as important as the physical and he's just a classy and very focused horse. He marches to the track each morning with one thing on his mind and that's training."The Jeff Mullins-trained Buddy Gil enters the Santa Anita Derby fresh off wins in the Baldwin Stakes (gr. IIT) and the San Felipe Stakes (gr. II), where he beat fellow Santa Anita Derby starter Atswhatimtalknbout by a nose.
On March 27 Buddy Gil worked five furlongs in :59 flat with Stevens in the irons.
Stevens, an eight-time winner of the Santa Anita Derby, said he expected the race to unfold much like Buddy Gil's previous races, with the son of Eastern Echo showing a lot of his natural speed and to place him in a forward position.
"I'm very happy where I'm sitting at the moment. This time of year you want a horse who has shown improvement each race. He's either good enough or he's not. I'll let the results speak for themselves. I believe he is that good," Stevens said.