Gary L. Stevens

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article

Gary L. Stevens
Gary Stevens Preakness.jpg
Gary Stevens at the 2013 Preakness Stakes
Born(1963-03-06) March 6, 1963 (age 51)
Caldwell, Idaho, U.S.
Career wins4,988 US[1] 5000+ worldwide
Major racing wins

American Classic Race wins:

Breeders' Cup wins

Racing awards
Significant horses
Jump to: navigation, search
Gary L. Stevens
Gary Stevens Preakness.jpg
Gary Stevens at the 2013 Preakness Stakes
Born(1963-03-06) March 6, 1963 (age 51)
Caldwell, Idaho, U.S.
Career wins4,988 US[1] 5000+ worldwide
Major racing wins

American Classic Race wins:

Breeders' Cup wins

Racing awards
Significant horses

Gary Lynn Stevens (born March 6, 1963 in Caldwell, Idaho) is an American Thoroughbred horse racing jockey, actor, and sports analyst. He became a jockey in 1979 with periods of temporary retirement due to knee problems from 1999 until 2000, and again from 2005-2013. He had an acting role in the 2003 film Seabiscuit and after his 2005 break from riding, worked for HRTV and NBC Sports as a horse racing analyst for seven years, had a brief stint as a race horse trainer, and took a few other acting roles, notably in the TV series Luck, before coming out of retirement again in 2013. In the 2013 season, he won 69 of 383 races and finished the year 12th in the nation in purse earnings, winning a number of significant races including the 2013 Preakness Stakes, the Breeders' Cup Distaff and the Breeders' Cup Classic. In 2014, he had a successful first half of the year, but his knee problems, including a completely torn ACL, became too severe to continue riding and by July, he announced a "break" in order to get a total knee replacement. He stated that he hopes to return to riding.


Although forced to wear a hip brace for 19 months at age seven due to a degenerative disease of the hip, Perthes syndrome,[2] Stevens began working for his horse trainer father, Ron, as a groom at age 8. By the time he was 14, he was riding American Quarter Horses.[citation needed]

Stevens dropped out of high school in 1979,[2] after an all-star wrestling season, to become a full-time jockey that year. Riding at Les Bois Park in Boise, Idaho, in his first start had a winner Thoroughbred. From there he soon became a leading rider in Washington. He then moved to California, becoming part of the leading competitive jockey colony there.



Stevens' first win in a Triple Crown race was the 1988 Kentucky Derby on the filly Winning Colors. He went on to win the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes three times each and fell short of winning the Triple Crown in 1997 when he won the Derby and Preakness with Silver Charm but came in second in the Belmont. The following year, he picked up his second Belmont win on Victory Gallop, in turn denying a Triple Crown to Real Quiet.[1]

He won the Santa Anita Derby a record nine times, and won ten Breeders' Cup races, making him the fourth-leading money winner in Breeders' Cup history.[citation needed] In 1993, Stevens became the youngest jockey to surpass $100 million in earnings. At the time of his 2005 temporary retirement, his mounts had collected over $221 million with 4,888 winners in North America.[3] and over 5000 wins[4][5] when including overseas victories,[6] including 49 wins in the UK,[7] and 20 victories in Hong Kong.[8] Coming back in 2013, he won the Preakness Stakes on Oxbow and added additional wins to his lifetime total, including an international victory in the Shergar Cup at Ascot Racecourse that raised his total win record in the United Kingdom to 50.[7] By 2014, his earnings stood at $236,951,490 and his North American wins were at 4,988.[1]

Gary Stevens at his 2005 retirement with his wife, Angie.

In 2002, Stevens wrote a book about his life up to that point titled The Perfect Ride.[9][10] Hall of Fame sportscaster Jack Whitaker described it as: "a great read, not only for horse racing fans, but for anyone interested in how the American dream really works."

He retired briefly from racing for ten months in 1999-2000 due to knee problems,[4] but returned after a rest and credited what was his first comeback to the use of nutraceutical supplements containing glucosamine and chondroitin.[11] In 2003, he suffered major injuries in the Arlington Million when his horse, in first place, spooked at the finish line, throwing him in front of other horses, one of whom stepped on him, resulting in a collapsed lung and neck injuries. In spite of the near-death experience, he returned to racing 19 days later.[12]

In November 2005, Stevens announced a second retirement. His decision was again linked to knee problems, but reached a week after after Rock Hard Ten, who he rode to a second-place in the 2004 Preakness Stakes, and whom he described at the time as the best horse he had ever ridden, was retired due to a foot injury. "He's retiring, I'm retiring," Stevens said, and rode his last races of that year on November 26 at Churchill Downs.[4]

Sports analyst[edit]

Stevens started working in January 2006 as a racing analyst with TVG.[4] Also that month he joined NBC Sports as its lead horse racing analyst. In March 2007, Stevens began working as a jockey agent, representing Corey Nakatani.[13] He then started a new job as a racing commentator for HRTV in 2008. In 2009, Stevens also became a horse trainer with the assistance of his son, T.C. Stevens, based at Santa Anita.


In the 2003 movie Seabiscuit, Stevens played jockey George Woolf, receiving generally positive reviews. He was recruited for the role in 2002 by the director, Gary Ross, and worked for four months on the film.[12] In 2011 he became a regular cast member on the HBO television series Luck produced by Thoroughbred owner David Milch, starring as an on-the-skids jockey named Ronnie. The cancellation of the show in 2012 prior to the beginning of its second season turned out to provide Stevens with the inspiration to return to actual race riding.[2]

2013 Comeback[edit]

Stevens after winning 2013 Breeders' Cup Classic on Mucho Macho Man

On January 3, 2013, Stevens announced that he was coming out of retirement to ride horses as a professional jockey again. He was named to ride a horse at Santa Anita Park on January 6.[14] On January 12, 2013, Stevens won the first race of his comeback in a maiden race aboard the filly Branding.

Stevens' first graded stakes win of his comeback came in the 2013 San Marcos Stakes on Slim Shadey. He reconnected with D. Wayne Lukas for the Triple Crown series on a horse named Oxbow. The team finished sixth in the 2013 Kentucky Derby, and on May 18, 2013, Stevens and Oxbow won the 2013 Preakness Stakes, his third Preakness win, and on the same day won the Dixieland Stakes on the undercard with the Lukas-trained Skyring.[15] After a second place finish in the Belmont, Stevens continued to ride regularly the rest of the years, and on November 1–2 at Santa Anita Park, Stevens won his third Breeders' Cup Distaff with Beholder as well as his first Breeders' Cup Classic aboard Mucho Macho Man.[16] His Classic win was the first in 15 total attempts, and he was the only jockey to have ridden in both the first Breeders' Cup in 1984 and in the 30th in 2013.[17] He finished the year 12th in the nation by earnings with 69 wins from 383 races and his lifetime wins total stood at 4,957.[1] HIs wins for 2013 included 18 graded stakes victories.[18] 2013 marked Stevens' third most successful year since 2000, comparing favorably to his 23 graded stakes wins from 487 starts and 94 wins in 2005 and 532 starts with 99 wins with 22 graded stakes wins in 2001.[1][18]

In 2014, he had 145 starts and 31 wins, finishing in the top three 54% of the time in the first half of the year,[1] but his knee problems became too severe to continue riding and by July, he announced a "break" in order to get a knee replacement. He hoped he could return to riding because he was otherwise in good athletic condition. He stated, “In my mind, I’m not finished," but said that he would not do so if he could not perform at his accustomed competitive level.[19] A week later, pre-op testing revealed he had been riding with a completely torn ACL and would need a total knee replacement.[20] Coincidentally, in the same week, Mucho Macho Man was retired from racing.[21]


Stevens has won numerous awards and prizes in the horse racing industry, including the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award in 1996. The award honors riders whose careers and personal conduct exemplifies the very best example of participants in the sport of Thoroughbred racing. In 1997, Stevens entered the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame and in 1998, he was voted the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey in the United States. In 1999, he was voted the Mike Venezia Memorial Award for "extraordinary sportsmanship and citizenship". James Risch, Governor of Idaho, proclaimed the week of July 10, 2006, to be Gary Stevens Week.[22] In 2013, he won the Big Sport of Turfdom award from the Turf Publicists of America, recognizing his contributions to the enhancement of Thoroughbred racing news coverage.[23] He was also nominated for that year's Eclipse Award, and his contributions to the success of Mucho Macho man were noted when that horse was the recipient of the 2013 Secretariat Vox Populi Award.[24]


Chart (2000–present)[1]Position
National Earnings List for Jockeys 200075
National Earnings List for Jockeys 20017
National Earnings List for Jockeys 200255
National Earnings List for Jockeys 200334
National Earnings List for Jockeys 200467
National Earnings List for Jockeys 200515
National Earnings List for Jockeys 201312
Preceded by
Jerry D. Bailey
Jockeys' Guild President
Succeeded by
Pat Day


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Gary L. Stevens". Retrieved 2014-07-11. 
  2. ^ a b c
  3. ^ Bob Velin, USA TODAY Sports 10:52 p.m. EST January 8, 2013 (2013-01-08). "Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens, 49, to make comeback". Retrieved 2014-07-11. 
  4. ^ a b c d Associated Press (2005-11-05). "Hall of Fame Jockey Gary Stevens Retires". Washington Post. Retrieved 2014-07-21. 
  5. ^ "The Sports Illustrated Vault -". Retrieved 2014-07-11. 
  6. ^ "Guidry hits 5,000 wins". Retrieved 2014-07-11. 
  7. ^ a b Lewyn, Myra (2013-08-10). "European Jockeys Capture Ascot's Shergar Cup". Retrieved 2014-07-11. 
  8. ^ Hawkins, Andrew (2013-11-14). "Gary Stevens joins the all-star cast at International Jockeys' Championship | South China Morning Post". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 2014-07-11. 
  9. ^ The Perfect Ride - Gary Stevens - Google Books. 2003-05-01. Retrieved 2014-07-11. 
  10. ^ "Book Review - The Perfect Ride". Retrieved 2014-07-11. 
  11. ^ Nack, William (2000-11-13). "Inside Horse Racing". Retrieved 2014-07-11. 
  12. ^ a b Layden, Tim (2003-10-27). "Hollywood Ending After a star turn in Seabiscuit and a real-life brush with death, Gary Stevens is riding high again". Retrieved 2014-07-11. 
  13. ^ Gantz, Tracy (2007-03-19). "Nakatani Says Stevens to Become His Agent". The BloodHorse. Archived from the original on 2007-01-27. Retrieved 2007-03-19. 
  14. ^ Andersen, Steve (2013-01-03). "Gary Stevens returns to the saddle Sunday at Santa Anita". Daily Racing Form. Retrieved 2013-01-04. 
  15. ^ Fountaine, Ed (2013-05-19). "Lukas rules at Pimlico | New York Post". Retrieved 2014-07-11. 
  16. ^ "Breeders' Cup Classic: Mucho Macho Man, Stevens win a thriller | Daily Racing Form". 2013-06-11. Retrieved 2014-07-11. 
  17. ^ Paulick, Ray. "Stevens Caps Comeback Year With Macho Win in Classic | Paulick Report – Thoroughbred Horse Racing News". Retrieved 2014-07-11. 
  18. ^ a b "Horse Racing | Horse Racing Entries | Horse Racing Results | Past Performances | Mobile | Statistics". Retrieved 2014-07-11. 
  19. ^ "Stevens to suspend riding, get knee replacement". 2013-06-11. Retrieved 2014-07-11. 
  20. ^ Privman, Jay (2014-07-18). "Stevens's knee injury worse than initially thought". Daily Racing Form. Retrieved 2014-07-21. 
  21. ^ Hammonds, Evan (2014-07-15). "Mucho Macho Man Retired, to Stand at Adena". Blood-Horse. Retrieved 2014-07-21. 
  22. ^ Governor James E. Risch - The State of Idaho Proclamation Gary Stevens Week
  23. ^ "Big Sport of Turfdom Award to Jockey Stevens". Retrieved 2014-07-11. 
  24. ^ Staff (2013-12-26). "Vox Populi Award Goes to Mucho Macho Man". Blood-Horse. Retrieved 2013-12-26. 

External links[edit]