Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Hall of Famer launching comeback after 7-year absence

  • Print

LOS ANGELES -- Two months shy of his 50th birthday, Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens is launching a comeback this weekend at Santa Anita.

"My passion is still there," Stevens said Thursday in announcing his return after a seven-year retirement. "Or I should say my passion has come back. I've worked a couple of very good horses in the morning at Santa Anita that kind of made the hair stand up on my neck and I haven't felt that in a long time."

Stevens' first race will be Sunday at Santa Anita, with his lone mount in a $50,000 claiming race on a horse named Jebrica.

"I'm going to be selective in what I ride and if that means not riding at all or upsetting people then so be it," he said. "I didn't come back to ride five days a week and ride nine races a day. I came back to ride some quality horses with hopefully some good futures."

He retired in November 2005 after battling knee pain that had him downing anti-inflammatories every day for the last 15 years of his career.

"Knees, they were never 100 per cent, I'll tell you, but compared to my last five years of riding they're about 120 per cent now," Stevens said, adding that the medications damaged his liver. "Fortunately, the liver is able to repair itself and I'm healthy."

Stevens said he's been working with a personal trainer and attended a program in Bellevue, Wash., that taught him how to eat a diet featuring high-protein and carbohydrates along with healthy fats. In retirement, his weight reached 146 pounds, but now Stevens said he's "down to 119 without trying."

"I'm sleeping well, no medications," he said.

Stevens' wife, Angie Athayde, said, "He cut out smoking, drinking, sugar. He went really hard-core."

She and the couple's young daughter visited Stevens in Washington state over Thanksgiving, where food and drink were in abundance.

"I said, 'Are you OK? They're drinking,' " she said of the get-together. "He said, 'It's not the drinking. It's the pie.' "

Athayde said she's excited for him to resume riding.

"It's long overdue," she said. "He's been so miserable not riding. I told him, 'You've got to get back on a horse.' "

Stevens has been working as a racing commentator for HRTV on weekends and for NBC Sports during the Triple Crown series, and he said he'll continue in those jobs while juggling his riding commitments.

The TV work provides a fallback plan if his comeback is thwarted by his knees.

"I don't know that that pain won't come back. Only time will tell," Stevens said.

In 1997, Stevens was elected to racing's Hall of Fame and the following year he won the Eclipse Award as the nation's outstanding jockey.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 4, 2013 C4

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Winnipeg Jets Bogosian-Little-Ladd

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Marc Gallant/Winnipeg Free Press. Local- Peregrine Falcon Recovery Project. Baby peregrine falcons. 21 days old. Three baby falcons. Born on ledge on roof of Radisson hotel on Portage Avenue. Project Coordinator Tracy Maconachie said that these are third generation falcons to call the hotel home. Maconachie banded the legs of the birds for future identification as seen on this adult bird swooping just metres above. June 16, 2004.
  • A monarch butterfly looks for nectar in Mexican sunflowers at Winnipeg's Assiniboine Park Monday afternoon-Monarch butterflys start their annual migration usually in late August with the first sign of frost- Standup photo– August 22, 2011   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Do you think Ray Rice should be given a lifetime ban from the NFL?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google