The Return of a Legend - Gary Stevens Back in the Saddle
Las Vegas, NV - After more than seven years away from racing and a gig as an analyst on HRTV and NBC Sports, Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens confirmed in an interview with HRTV January 3 that he would indeed return to the saddle beginning Jan. 6 in a $50,000 claiming race on the turf at Santa Anita Park aboard R and R Warren's Jebrica, a 5-year-old Washington-bred gelding.
"I want to give it a go again," Stevens said on HRTV, the racing television network for which he has served as an analyst since 2008. "There's been a lot of speculation, and I'm coming back on Sunday."
I haven't felt this way since probably five years before I retired," said the jockey, who suffered chronic knee pain and hung up his tack in 2005. "What I'm doing in the gym every day and on horseback every day gives me a pretty good indication that I'm good for quite a while."
50 year old Stevens is a three-time winner of both the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes and a two-time Preakness winner. He also counts eight Breeders' Cup scores among his 4,888 wins to date. A native of Caldwell, Idaho, he began his career in 1979 at Les Bois Park and was a leading rider in Washington before moving to California and establishing his name on the South Cal circuit. In 1993, Stevens became the youngest jockey to surpass $100 million in earnings. His career earnings rest at $221,212,704.
Online Horse betting at Santa Anita with OffTrackBetting.com
Stevens hadn't been too far away from the sport that had made him millions - he has been an active member of the racing community even after his retirement from riding. He trained horses, worked as an agent, served as an analyst for TVG and NBC Sports as well as HRTV, starred as George Woolf in the 2003 film "Seabiscuit," and was a regular cast member on the short-lived HBO television series "Luck."
"I didn't come back to ride five days a week, nine races a day," Stevens said. "I came back with the hope of helping develop good racehorses."
So how did he fare in his comeback race? Not too bad! He and Jebrica held the lead for a while but withered down the stretch and was eventually caught by fast closing Maybe Tuesday and Deacon Speakin with Garrett Gomez aboard. Jebrica finished third.
"It feels good to get the cobwebs out, and I feel good" Stevens said about the race.
Stevens is expected to see action again in the third race January 11 at Santa Anita - he said he will ride while continuing to serve as an analyst for HRTV and with NBC Sports while he rides races, but plans to selectively pursue mounts.