01/04/2013 4:48PM

Santa Anita: Stevens gets paperwork out of the way

Barbara D. Livingston
Gary Stevens rides Jebrica in the sixth race on Sunday.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Friday was a day of bureaucracy for Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens, 49, who rides for the first time in seven years on Sunday.

Friday morning, he was in the California Horse Racing Board offices to reapply for a jockey’s license. Later that day, he was booked for a required physical.

When he rides his lone mount on Sunday, Jebrica, in the sixth race, he will be aboard a 5-year-old gelding who has connections dating back to the start of Stevens’s career in Washington. Jebrica is trained by Washington-based Jim Penney. His daughter Kay Cooper and her husband, Bryson Cooper, direct Penney’s California stable. Bryson Cooper is a former jockey who rode with Stevens.

“We grew up together at Longacres,” Kay Cooper said on Friday.

Stevens has knowledge of Jebrica. He worked the gelding in late December. A stakes winner at Hastings Park in 2011 and stakes-placed in the Northwest in 2012, Jebrica was last of seven in an optional claimer at Betfair Hollywood Park on Dec. 8. He is entered for a $50,000 claiming price on Friday.

Kay Cooper said that Stevens was looking for a horse to work in December and she suggested Jebrica.

Friday, Stevens said he has been “overwhelmed” by the response to his comeback, which was announced on Thursday.

“I’ve had messages on Twitter,” he said. “I had 42 texts. I thought there would be more negativity, but I’m ready for that.”

He said he recalls a day in the 1980s when he was riding with the legendary Bill Shoemaker, who was booed by the crowd after losing aboard a favorite.

“That’s when you know you’ve made it, when they boo you,” Shoemaker told Stevens.