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Stevens Ready to Ride in Big 'Cap

Stevens

Don’t try to convince Gary Stevens that money doesn’t make the mare go. In a race-riding career spanning more than three decades, including seven years off for retirement, if there’s one thing he’s learned, it’s that when big money’s on the line, it’s a whole new ball game. Such is the case Saturday, when Stevens, who turns 50 in five days, rides Called to Serve in the $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap.

“I don’t know what it is,” said Stevens, who hits the mid-century mark on March 6. “It’s those dollar signs with all the zeroes behind the prize money. Then, all the rules change. I figured that out when I came down here and I was riding with Shoe and all those guys.

“I said, ‘These guys don’t do anything different from what I do,’ and then I rode in my first big race with them. Everything got tighter and Delahoussaye forgot who his friends were.”

That’s life in the fast lane, and it doesn’t change whether you’re 15 or 50. On the race track, there are no perks for senior citizens.

“Did I give any thought when I started out that I’d still be doing this?” Stevens asked rhetorically when queried about joining the likes of fellow superstars Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley at 50 this year.

“Heck, no. They used to laugh at me. I was 28 years old and in the shower after a bad day and I told Shoemaker, “Three more years. I’m retiring.’ He laughed at me. But I’m happy right now.

“I was talking to my brother (52-year-old jockey Scott, currently second-leading rider at Turf Paradise) yesterday and he said, ‘These guys keep asking me when I’m going to retire.’ He said, ‘I am retired. I just go horse back riding instead of fishing and I get paid for it.’”

Not much of a stretch to say that’s how Gary feels these days. Must be in the genes.

 

 

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Glad to see his comeback is successful!

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