Gary Stevens, 50, will ride 4-year-old colt Dullahan in the $10 million Dubai World Cup on Saturday. Stevens was the leading rider at Longacres in Renton in 1983 and 1984.
Stevens to ride in Dubai
During the seven years he was away from riding, one of the things that kept nagging at Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens was the fact he didn’t win the Dubai World Cup more than once.
Stevens, whose career includes three Kentucky Derby victories, said the prospect of riding again in the world’s richest race helped to convince him to launch a comeback in January. He won in Dubai aboard Silver Charm in 1998.
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The 50-year-old Stevens, the leading rider at Longacres in Renton in 1983 and 1984, will ride 4-year-old colt Dullahan in the $10 million Dubai World Cup on Saturday at Meydan.
“I would love to win another Dubai World Cup,” he said. “I didn’t want to be 70 years old, sitting at home with my children and saying, ‘Man, I wish I would have done this when I was 50.’ “
Stevens, bothered by knee problems before he stopped riding, said, “To go out there and ride a race and not to have pain, I am thinking mentally much more clearly than I did for the last five years I was riding competitively.”
Stevens said his biggest worry was common to older athletes that make a comeback: Would he tarnish his legacy?
“I didn’t want to be the shadow of what Gary Stevens once was,” he said. “I knew I had to be what he was, if not better.”
Meanwhile, Saturday races in the United States include two $1 million prep races for the May 4 Kentucky Derby — the Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla., and the Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds in New Orleans.
Driver deal falls apart
A multirace deal to loan Mark Martin to Joe Gibbs Racing as a replacement driver for injured Denny Hamlin collapsed, as Michael Waltrip Racing said Martin will fulfill his commitment to its team.
Martin will drive Hamlin’s car next weekend in Martinsville, Va., but Brian Vickers will be Hamlin’s replacement driver for at least four races — until Hamlin is medically cleared to return from a fractured vertebra in his lower back suffered in a wreck last weekend.
Joe Gibbs Racing officials said Thursday that Martin would drive the No. 11 Toyota until Hamlin returns.
“We were a bit premature in determining Mark’s status past Martinsville,” J.D. Gibbs, president of JGR, said in a statement Friday.
Ferrer, Murray advance
Third-seeded David Ferrer of Spain will face second-seeded Andy Murray of Britain in Sunday’s Sony Open final in Key Biscayne, Fla.
In semifinal matches, Ferrer beat No. 15 Tommy Haas of Germany 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 and Murray defeated eighth-seeded Richard Gasquet of France 6-7 (3-7), 6-1, 6-2.
Gasquet aggravated a lingering right-ankle injury and required treatment from a trainer after the second set, and he limped at times.
American Serena Williams, No. 1 in the world, will face third-seeded Maria Sharapova of Russia in the women’s final Saturday.
Minnesota is ousted
Jesse Root scored nine seconds into overtime to give fourth-seeded Yale a 3-2 victory over top-seeded Minnesota in the NCAA West Regional men’s semifinals in Grand Rapids, Mich.
Minnesota was the No. 2 overall seed in the 16-team tournament. The No. 1 overall seed, Quinnipiac of Hamden, Conn., plays Canisius in the East semifinals on Saturday.
• Michigan led the standings with 336 points after two days of the NCAA men’s swimming and diving championships in Indianapolis. California was second at 301.5.
• Authorities say six people suffered minor injuries in chaotic scenes as thousands of fans tried to buy tickets for the inaugural soccer match at the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador, Brazil, one of the venues for next year’s World Cup.
Police used pepper spray and tear gas on the crowd after fans clashed as organizers started running out of tickets for the Bahia-Vitoria match. Most of the 40,000 tickets already had been sold online.
• Superstar sprinter Usain Bolt, a winner of six Olympic gold medals, will try to surpass his world record of 14.35 seconds for 150 meters when he races Sunday in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
• Authorities say 25-year-old Reid Fliehr, the son of professional wrestler Ric Flair, was found dead in a Charlotte, N.C., hotel room. Police said there were no signs of foul play.
Seattle Times news services