02/10/2017 3:00PM

Stevens hoping for mid-March return to saddle

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Barbara D. Livingston
Jockey Gary Stevens expects to begin exercising horses in early March as he returns from hip-replacement surgery.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens is planning a mid-March return to race riding after undergoing a hip-replacement operation in late December.

Stevens said on Thursday that he has received doctor’s clearance to resume exercising horses in early March to prepare for a comeback. He said he is working on fitness by riding a stationary bike and an Equicizer, which mimics the mechanics of race riding.

“The doctor was happy with everything,” he said. “He doesn’t want me to do anything where I fall on the hip for the next three weeks.”

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Stevens, 53, won 40 races from 316 mounts in 2016. His top mount was Beholder, who won the Breeders’ Cup Distaff last November. Stevens won 15 stakes in 2016.

Stevens said his recovery has been smooth. He said the discomfort from the hip-replacement operation on Dec. 21 was significantly less severe than from a knee-replacement operation years ago.

“I’m 53, and I know how the knee felt,” he said. “The first three weeks, I wouldn’t wish that pain on anything.”