GARY STEVENS, GREAT HOT, WINNER: “At the three-eighths pole I let her out a notch and it wasn’t full tilt yet, but it was enough to get their attention. When we turned into the stretch she had enough still to hold the other filly off.”

(Did you like the way you got her to relax going into the first turn?)

“It was so sweet. I moved her out about three wide and she just shut it down and was listening to my commands all the way around. I was just being a passenger until the head of the stretch.”

(Any deja vú the last couple of weeks?)

“It feels good. I’ve had that feeling before. I guess that’s why I came back, I had that feeling, and I wanted it again.”

RAFAEL BEJARANO, BOOK REVIEW, SECOND: “The one horse (Great Hot) had the lead easy. I decided to stay on the rail. If I had stayed too far out and got clear I may not have had a chance to catch them; they went too slow (for me). I was right behind the winner. By the three-eighths I let go and my horse moved well but the winner was very comfortable on the lead and that horse was running until the end. For a moment turning into the stretch I thought I had a lot of horse, and that she was going to show me a big kick but Great Hot never stopped until the end.”

JOE TALAMO, LADY OF FIFTY, THIRD: “I was sitting perfect in second.”


A.C. AVILA, GREAT HOT, WINNER: “Gary (Stevens) got the breaks. Nobody wins 5,000 races for no reason. I put the blinkers on to give her more focus. He (Stevens) spoke to me yesterday (about strategy), I said, ‘I’m going to do one thing. I’m going to give you a leg up and you are the boss.’ How am I going to tell Gary Stevens how to ride?

“I left it up to Gary, because he knows how to read the Form. I said when the gates open and if somebody gets crazy, let them go. She’s got back class.”

NOTES: Avila said he would look at the Grade I, $300,000 Santa Margarita Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on March 16 for her next race. “She showed she can relax,” Avila said. “She just galloped around there. It’s like a dream come true.”

The winning owners are Luiz Fernando Dannemann and Denize Ferrier Danneman of Rio de Janeiro, who race as Coudelaria Jessica.