Gary Stevens (born March 6, 1963) is an American thoroughbred racing jockey, actor, television personality, and sports anchor who works for both HRTV and NBC Sports as a horse racing analyst.
Although forced to wear a hip brace for nineteen months due to a degenerative disease of the hip, Perthes syndrome, at age 7, 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.
Stevens dropped out of high school after an all-star wrestling season to become a full-time jockey. He began his career in 1979 at Les Bois Park in Boise, Idaho, and in his first start had a winner thoroughbred. From there, he soon became a leading rider in Washington, and later moved down the coast into California, becoming part of the leading competitive jockey groups there.
|Born||March 6, 1963 (age 50)|
In 1993, Gary Stevens became the youngest jockey to surpass $100 million in earnings.
Stevens has been in the winner's circle three times each at the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes. He won the Santa Anita Derby a record nine times, and he's won the eight Breeder's Cup races, making him the fourth-leading money winner in Breeder's Cup history so far. His mounts have collected over $221 million with 4,888 winners and over 5,000 including overseas victories.
Gary Stevens has won numerous awards and prizes in the horse racing industry, including the prestigious 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 for 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".
The Perfect Ride
In 2002, Gary wrote a book about his life called The Perfect Ride. Hall of Fame sportscaster Jack Whitaker had this to say about Stevens' book: "A Perfect Ride is a great read, not only for horse racing fans, but for anyone interested in how the American dream really works."
On November 27, 2005, Stevens announced his retirement. That day at Churchill Downs, he finished second aboard a 4-year-old mare named Louve Royale in his final race as a jockey. A week after his favorite horse, Rock Hard Ten, was forced to retire due to a foot injury, the jockey of 27 years started working in January 2006 as a racing analyst with TVG. Also that month, he joined NBC Sports as its leading horse racing analyst. James Risch, Governor of Idaho, proclaimed the week of July 10, 2006, to be Gary Stevens Week. In March 2007, Stevens became the jockey agent for Corey Nakatani. Gary started a new job as a racing commentator for HRTV on January 1, 2008. On June 1, 2009, Stevens began Gary Stevens Racing Stable Inc. where he trained horses with his son, T.C. Stevens. His horses were stabled at Santa Anita and shipped to various races throughout the country.
In 2003, Gary Stevens stated in an interview with Charlie Rose that he doesn't think there will be another Triple Crown winner because of the tendency for owners to put fresh horses in the Preakness and Belmont Stakes. After Big Brown won the Kentucky Derby in 2008, Stevens said: "It's been 30 years since we had our last Triple Crown winner - it's time for another."
On January 3, 2013, Stevens revealed on HRTV 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. On the 12th, he won his first race of his comeback. It was an MSW event at Santa Anita Racetrack aboard the filly Branding, bred by Royal Pegasus Farm in Lexington, Kentucky.
Stevens' first graded stakes win of his comeback came in the 2013 San Marcos Stakes when he guided home Slim Shadey for the horse's second win in that race.
On May 18, 2013, Gary Stevens aboard Oxbow won the 138th Preakness Stakes, for his third Preakness win. Another notable victory of his return was in the Shergar Cup at Ascot Racecourse which raised his lifetime win record in the United Kingdom to fifty.
In the 2003 film Seabiscuit, Stevens played jockey George Woolf. In 2011, he became a regular cast member on the HBO television series Luck, produced by an avid horse racing fan and thoroughbred owner David Milch, starring as an on-the-skids jockey named Ronnie.