12/26/2016 3:00PM

Stevens recovering from hip surgery

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Benoit & Associates
Jockey Gary Stevens hopes to return to riding in 2017.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens is recovering from a Dec. 21 hip-replacement operation and hopes to return to riding in the coming months.

Stevens was at Santa Anita on Monday morning to watch workouts. He said he has been instructed to begin as much physical therapy as possible.

“The doctor said if it starts hurting, I’ve done too much,” he said.

Stevens said aside from bruising and swelling at the incision point, he has experienced minimal discomfort. He previously had a knee replaced.

“It was nothing compared to my knee as far as pain goes,” he said.

Stevens said he has short-term plans to work as an assistant to owner Mick Ruis, who has a growing stable in Southern California. A decision for a return to riding will be made in early 2017.

“That’s a decision to come down the road,” he said. “I won’t know until I get on a horse and work a few. If I don’t feel like I need to, I’ll call it a day.”

Stevens, 53, won 40 races from 316 mounts in 2016. His top mount was Beholder, who won the Breeders’ Cup Distaff by a nose over the previously unbeaten Songbird at Santa Anita on Nov. 4. Beholder was retired after the BC Distaff and has been sent to Kentucky to be bred.

Stevens won 15 stakes in 2016, the last of which was on the Ruis-owned Defiantly in the minor Let It Ride Stakes at Del Mar on Nov. 12. Stevens has won 5,083 races in the United States and Canada and has ridden extensively outside of North America, notably in Dubai, England, and Hong Kong, in a career that began in 1979.