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Woodford Stephens

Woodford Stephens
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   Born Woodford Cefis Stephens in Stanton, Ky., “Woody” was a jockey at age 16 and began working on the backstretch for trainer John Ward. Stephens ran a public stable in the 1940s and 1950s until Harry Guggenheim convinced him to take over Cain Hoy Stable in the late 1950s.

   With Stephens’ help, Cain Hoy unseated Calumet as the leading stable of the period. His best horse and first champion during this period was Bald Eagle, winner of the 1959 Suburban and two consecutive Washington, D.C. Internationals. Stephens remained with Cain Hoy until 1966 when he reopened his public stable. 

  Stephens is best known for winning a record five consecutive Belmont Stakes from 1982-86 with Conquistador Cielo, Caveat, Swale, Creme Fraiche, and Danzig Connection. He has also won two editions of the Kentucky Derby with Cannonade (1974) and Swale (1984), and the Preakness with Blue Man (1952).

  Along with his victories in the classics, Stephens won the Travers, Haskell, Jockey Club Gold Cup (2), Pennsylvania Derby (3), Wood Memorial, Alabama, Saranac (5), Spinaway (3), Florida Derby (2), Hopeful, Jim Dandy (3), Saratoga Special (3), Kentucky Oaks (5), Sanford Stakes (3), and Blue Grass Stakes (3).

  Stephens’ 11 champions have earned honors in nearly every category of racing, particularly the 2-year-old championship. He won the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Trainer in 1982. Stephens had 1,937 winners and purses totaling $53 million for his career.

  Stephens died on Aug. 22, 1998, eight days shy of his 85th birthday.
  Woody Stephens was inducted into the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame in 1976.