Gary Stevens Jockey
Wednesday July 12, 2006
You might say Gary Stevens simply went into the family business, since the Caldwell, Idaho native -- whose brother is also a jockey -- is the son of a successful trainer and his rodeo queen wife who had young Gary grooming horses by the time he was eight years old and riding winners on the quarter horse circuit by the time he was 14.
Like the handful of rookies who hit a home run in their first major league at bat, Gary Stevens won the first Thoroughbred race of his career when at age sixteen he guided Ron Stevens-trainee Lil Star to victory at Idaho's Les Bois Park and was on his way, quickly becoming the top rider in the Pacific Northwest, winning back-to-back riding titles at Longacres by the age of 21.
A 1985 move to Southern California brought a string of riding titles there, beginning in 1986 with a suite that included meets at Santa Anita, Hollywood Park (summer and fall), and Oak Tree. When all was said and done, Gary's list of 15 SoCal riding titles included four wins at Santa Anita, two each at the Hollywood Park summer meeting and Del Mar, three at Oak Tree, and four at the Hollywood Park fall meet -- not to mention riding a record nine Santa Anita Derby winners!
Along the way, Gary twice led all jockeys in earnings (1990 & 1998) while ranking among the top ten money winners 16 times between 1985 and 2001, was inducted into the Racing Hall of Fame in 1997, and received the Eclipse Award as North America's Outstanding Jockey in 1998.
In addition to his eight winning rides in Breeders' Cup races and eight Triple Crown wins, Gary also won an impressive total of 12 races whose purses exceeded the million dollar mark. The list of winners ridden by Stevens includes the likes of Kentucky Derby victors Winning Colors (1998), Thunder Gulch (1995), and Silver Charm (1997); Preakness winners Silver Charm (1997) and Point Given (2001); Belmont winners Thunder Gulch (1995), Victory Gallop (1998), and Point Given (2001); War Chant (2000 BC Mile), Anees (1999 Juvenile), Escena (1998 Distaff), and Silverbulletday ('98 Juvenile Fillies).
In 2003, Gary added acting to his list of accomplishments when he portrayed jockey George Woolf in the blockbuster film Seabiscuit (on the set of which he met his wife, production assistant Angie Athayde-Stevens) and retired from racing in 2005 to become a racing analyst for NBC and TVG.
Cedar Rapids, IA:
Gary, thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to talk to your fans! I just wanted to say how wonderful it is to have you on the air now and how much I enjoy your very informative insights. What do you like most about what you're doing now? Do you miss riding?
Thanks for the question! Commentating gives me the same adrenaline rush as riding, so that helps me not miss riding. I miss being in the jocks room. but I still get to see my friends and be involved in the sport I love. I like being able to eat and not having to maintain a low weight. The thing I like most is the live shows! You never know what is going to happen and I get to be involved and tell everyone my opinions and observations of the race.
Would you like to see TVG evolve into an all encompassing horse industry channel with heavier emphasis on the breeding, entertainment, and sale sides of the sport? It might take another channel, something like ESPN2, but I think it could be done.
I think that would be great. TVG has evolved so much in the last year alone and is evolving daily. They are very open to new ideas and love input. This is something you should maybe recommend to them.
To read the complete transcript of this chat, along with many others, check out Best of Talkiní Horses.
Best of Talkin’ Horses features provocative “chats” with some of Thoroughbred racing’s most prominent names. Adapted from “Talkin’ Horses,” the popular weekly online chat series hosted by Bloodhorse.com, this edited collection provides additional insights by Ron Mitchell, editor and moderator of “Talkin’ Horses."
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