Gary Stevens : Horse Racing Jockey
Born on the 6th of March 1963 in Caldwell, Idaho, Gary Lynn Stevens is one of America’s great thoroughbred horse racing jockeys. His life amongst horses started early since his entire family was involved with these stunning creatures. His father was a trainer while his mother was a Rodeo Queen. His brother is also a jockey. By the time Gary Stevens was eight, he was already grooming horses. By the time he was fourteen he had ridden a number of winners in the quarter horse races that took place at local fairs. His racing career took off with a flying start in 1979 at Les Bois Park when he rode his first thoroughbred winner, Lil Star, for his father. He was only sixteen at the time and it didn’t take long for him to become the top jockey in Washington.
Not long afterwards, Stevens made the decision to take his career to Southern California where, after a rocky start, his career really took off. He won numerous races here between 1986 and 1994 and gained a reputation for being an excellent jockey. However Stevens didn’t limit himself to Southern California and he also became a familiar face on the Triple Crown circuit and at the Kentucky Derby. In all, Gary Stevens enjoyed rode 25,442 career mounts and 4,512 wins. He won countless awards and prizes including the prestigious George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award. The award honours riders who exhibit exemplary conduct both on and off the track. He also entered the National Museum of racing and Hall of Fame in 1997 and received the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey in the US the following year.
In 1999, Gary announced early retirement stating that he was struggling with debilitating knee pain from his long riding career. He underwent countless surgeries to relieve the problem and focused on training instead. During the following year he became an assistant trainer for Alex Hassinger and the Thoroughbred Corp but he found it difficult to stay out of the saddle. In October 2000 he decided to resume riding and before long he was back in the Triple Crown limelight.
In 2002 Gary Stevens wrote his first book, ‘The Perfect Ride’ which has proven to be popular amongst racing fans. In 2003 he reached a far wider audience when he portrayed the legendary George Woolf in the 2003 movie Seabiscuit. Near the end of 2005, Gary Stevens’ career took a turn when he announced his retirement. Two days later, on his final race at Churchill Downs, he finished second on Louve Royal. By then Stevens has been a jockey for as long as 25 years and it truly was time to slow down. Gary Stevens decided to become a racing analyst for NBC and TVG and it is in this capacity which he currently serves the racing community.