Updated on 09/17/2011 9:55AM

Familiar role for Stevens


ARCADIA, Calif. - Gary Stevens switches roles this weekend, from playing a jockey in the upcoming Seabiscuit movie to the real thing, attempting to add to his already illustrious Hall of Fame career.

Stevens is booked on five mounts on Sunday at Santa Anita, his first mounts since the Breeders' Cup last October at Arlington Park. In the last few months, Stevens has been busy working as an actor, playing the role of George Woolf in the Seabiscuit movie based on the popular book.

While his involvement in the movie is finished, Stevens says he is not through with Hollywood. He said he would love to find other movie roles, if opportunities arose in the future.

"I'm very happy with the circumstances," Stevens said. "There's no reason I can't do both. If I can get something in acting once a year, it would be great. It will increase my longevity of being a jockey."

Stevens has been plagued by knee problems over the last decade, undergoing multiple surgeries during that time. His knees became such a problem that he retired in December 1999 but returned in the fall of 2000.

On Friday, he said the recent time off has been a blessing for his knees, the sort of vacation that his doctor, James Tibone, has advised in the past.

"My body feels good," Stevens said. "I feel my mind is good and I'm excited. My knees haven't felt this good in 10 years. I know in six or seven months that they may bother me again. This is why Dr. Tibone told me to take off."

During the filming, Stevens was not allowed to ride races. In the last two weeks, with most of the filming completed, he has resumed exercising horses at Santa Anita.

The timing of his comeback is designed to find a Kentucky Derby mount. Stevens has won the race three times, but not since Silver Charm scored in 1997.

"If I don't come up with something, I'll be at the Derby promoting this movie," Stevens said. "If I can't find something that has a legitimate shot, I don't want to ride it just to ride."

On Sunday, Stevens will have a busy day. He rides Rock n Rosh in the second race, Fly to the Wire in the third, Zanakar in the fifth, Se Me Acabo in the $200,000 Santa Maria Handicap, and Winsome Prose in the ninth.

"I'm very fit," Stevens said. "I don't expect to come back on Sunday and be riding in my prime. The competition is completely different than working horses."

San Marino postponed

The $75,000 San Marino Handicap, a restricted race at 1 1/4 miles on turf, has been postponed from Sunday to Thursday because of the recent rain.

Track officials said they want to keep the race at 1 1/4 miles on turf, which requires a start on the lower portion of the hillside turf course.

For races over that distance, the field runs downhill for approximately a furlong before crossing over the dirt course and onto the main turf oval.

The same list of horses that were nominated by Feb. 9 will remain eligible for the San Marino with no additional entries permitted, according to assistant racing secretary Rick Hammerle.

"We're going to reschedule for Thursday with the same cast," Hammerle said. "We're just concerned about some possible rain that could hinder us from going across the crossing. We want to keep the distance intact."

Hammerle said the distance of the race was not altered because some owners and trainers use the San Marino as a prep for the $250,000 San Luis Rey Handicap at 1 1/2 miles on March 15.

Thursday is the next available day for the San Marino to take place. There is no racing at Santa Anita on Wednesday.

Earlier this week, there was no turf racing at Santa Anita from Wednesday through Friday. There were three races scheduled for turf on Saturday, but two were canceled at scratch time on Friday. Only the $200,000 San Luis Obispo Handicap will be run on grass.

The San Luis Obispo is run at 1 1/2 miles on turf. Typically, races at that distance start farther up the hillside turf course, but an alternate starting point is available on the backstretch, and it will be used on Saturday.

For Sunday, there are two races scheduled on turf.

Buena Vista tops holiday card

The $150,000 Buena Vista Handicap for fillies and mares on Monday has drawn a field of nine. Run at a mile on turf, the race is headed by Sentimental Value, who won a division of the Harold Ramser Stakes over this course last October, and Sea of Showers, the winner of two allowance races since arriving from France last year.

The Buena Vista is the seventh race on a 10-race program on Presidents Day. There is no racing at Santa Anita on Wednesday.

Valenzuela to start comeback

Jockey Fernando Valenzuela, who has not ridden in a year after suffering injuries in a spill, is preparing for a return to riding.

Valenzuela, 33, said he intends to begin exercising horses in coming days and will return to riding in mid-March. He will be represented by agent Craig Stephen.

Valenzuela has won several stakes races in his career, including the 1994 California Cup Juvenile on Fandarel Dancer.

- Services were held last Tuesday for Marvin Shapiro, who was active in harness racing and the son of prominent owner L.K. Shapiro, who campaigned Native Diver. Marvin Shapiro was 83.

His son, Tom, is the owner of Calkins Road, the winner of the Snow Chief Stakes and California Cup Classic in 2001.