Stevens, still riding high off his Preakness victory in May, sat on a railing at Santa Anita's Clocker's Corner this week and remembered.
Heading for home, he said, he was right behind leader McCarron, with Shoemaker a couple of lengths back and to his left. Stevens saw McCarron drifting out and yelled, "Chris, the rail." Translation: Don't let Shoemaker through.
McCarron closed it, and Stevens and Cutlass Reality stormed past and home, a 6 1/2-length winner. The victory was decisive, unquestioned. Still, Stevens regretted his action. Still does.
"I looked up to Shoe forever," he says now. "In the jock room, Shoe walked up to me and told me to make damn sure I never did that again. I was devastated. Thank God I was done riding that day. I went in the shower and cried."
Shoemaker later told Stevens to forget it. Twenty-five years later, Stevens hasn't.
Interestingly, Stevens could have ended up on Clubhouse Ride on Saturday. But by the time regular rider Garrett Gomez asked to take some personal time off, Stevens had committed to a ride back East and young star Joe Talamo got the ride.
History can be quirky. Cutlass Reality won the lead-in, the Grade II Californian, in 1988. Clubhouse Ride did the same this year.
And how about this for hunch bettors? Both have the initials C.R.
Faith is enough to stir Craig Lewis, who is fond of saying, "You gotta believe."