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A Bumpy Return for Stevens : Jockey Bruised but Unhurt When Thrown From Horse

December 20, 1987

Jockey Gary Stevens was bruised but otherwise unhurt when he was thrown onto the Hollywood Park track as his mount broke down during the third race Saturday.

Stevens was leading aboard Natural San when the 2-year-old filly broke a foreleg, pitching the rider over her head. Stevens got to his feet almost immediately and walked off the track.

The 24-year-old rider took himself off his mount in the fourth race but returned to keep the remainder of his commitments. He had five mounts and finished second with two of them.

Saturday was the first day Stevens had ridden since breaking his ankle in a Nov. 14 starting gate accident at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting.

In the $159,200 Native Diver Handicap, Stevens finished on Honor Medal, a 5-1 shot, as Epidaurus, refreshed after a nine-month layoff, scored a 2-length victory.

Unraced since last winter's Santa Anita meeting, Epidaurus made one start in December before this race. He took the lead at the start and was never in trouble as horse after horse in the field of eight attempted to challenge him.

Midwest King, ridden by Eddie Delahoussaye, came from sixth place to finish second but did not challenge the winner as Patrick Valenzuela appeared to be easing Epidaurus at the finish.

It was the second chance for Epidaurus in the Native Diver Handicap--he finished second to Hopeful Word last year. Since, he had won only one race, the San Pasqual Handicap at Santa Anita in February. After finishing ninth in the Santa Anita Handicap, he was given a rest by trainer Charles Whittingham.

The crowd of 23,813 sent Epidaurus off as the favorite, and he paid $5.40, $4.00 and $3.20. Midwest King returned $8.80 and $5.60. He's A Saros paid $3.60.

Epidaurus raced 1 1/8 miles over a good track in the swift time of 1:47 3/5, a fifth of a second off the track record set by Fran's Valentine in 1985.

Epidaurus, a son of Ack Ack, earned $91,200 for owner Howard Keck of Beverly Hills.

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