07/22/2016 1:50PM

Jockey Steiner retires at 51


Jockey Joe Steiner announced his retirement from riding on Thursday. Steiner was named on five horses at Emerald Downs this weekend, including Say It Slow in the $75,000 Washington Oaks, but he told his agent, Vito Lucarelli, that he won’t be riding.

Despite missing almost seven years of riding between 2004 and 2011 with a neck injury, Steiner won 1,061 races in a career that began in Southern California in 1981. He apprenticed under Hall of Fame jockey and trainer John Longden. His first win came aboard Hillside Ruler at the 1981 Del Mar Fair. His mounts earned a total of $17,288,500. Steiner won seven graded stakes, including the Grade 1 Norfolk Stakes with Saratoga Passage in 1987.

Steiner, 51, was born in Renton, Wash. After being based in California for most of his career, he moved back to Washington in 2015 to be near his family. His parents, Joe and Sally Steiner, have run the Quarter Chute Café since the track opened in 1996.

He won his 1,000th race aboard Gold Bloom at last year’s meet on April 19.

In a press release issued by Emerald, Steiner said he “would like to be some kind of sports psychologist.” Citing his 35 years of experience dealing with the mental and physical sides of riding, Steiner said, “I want to help others. I know I can help jockeys.”

Steiner was riding the heavily favored The Chilli Man when the horse broke down in the Emerald Express last Sunday and had to be euthanized. He said the incident wasn’t the reason for his retirement, “but it may have hastened it.”

Steiner will be relocating in Southern California next month with his 1-year-old son, Jonah, and wife, Dagmar, a renowned equine artist. In 2014, she was commissioned by Del Mar to do a painting of Pacific Classic winner Shared Belief. The Steiner family will be on hand when Dagmar’s painting of last year’s winner, Beholder, is featured on Pacific Classic Day, Aug. 20.

Steiner was the double for Gary Stevens in the movie “Seabiscuit,”and his grandfather was the stunt rider in the 1949 movie “The Story of Seabiscuit.”

Jane Hudnell More than 1 year ago
Joe,is such a nice man. I know he can help many jockeys and exercise riders with any problems they might have working at the racetrack. 
Enzo Lentini More than 1 year ago
what joe steiner are these folks talking a about...A 9% below average rider who never upgraded a horse
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As a kid who grew up in the 80s, and in Southern California, I was lucky enough
to have an encounter with Joe, after a race at Del Mar, I told him nice ride and he
tossed me his goggles, will never forget that. Or his rides on Irish O'rbien, coming
down the hill at Santa Anita, and Kangaroo Court!
Bob Rose More than 1 year ago
It's late, and I'm tired, but not too tired to thank Joe Steiner for the class and dignity he displayed so consistently over the 35 years I was fortunate to share So. Cal race tracks often beside Joe, and  I formed my own nicknames for him. He wore a pair of heartfelt descriptive nicknames, the first established when as a youngster I never saw him miss a morning where there wasn't a Banana in his hand (very wise move for a young kid, i might add) So, 'Banana Joe' seemed appropo, then, I added an alternative name, as the decades rolled on by, he astonished me through the constancy of  the ups and downs of racing, by never losing that winning smile, so banana Joe took a step backward, to make room for a tough little man that refused to allow misfortune to hang a claim tag on the smile he consistently wore, so 'Smilin' Joe' earned that moniker. Sheddin' a tear or two here, as i realize that the cute kid I first saw come thru the stable gate 35 years ago with the banana, is walking out the gate with such a  bigger reward, possibly the most darling wife and son ever! Thank you Joe for making so many of our lives happy, by sharing that contagious smile for decades. Only thing a tad upsetting after such a long friendship, is you finally have me bawling like a baby in need of a diaper change! Best wishes on your next venture.

Christine Race More than 1 year ago
Retirement is the name of the game as of late...but Joe Steiners I truly understand...and wish him well...remembering him for DECADES of good riding at longacres  - emerald  downs and the so.cal circuit. BEST to you Sir - enjoy and I know you will find great satisfaction in assisting others in their craft.