07/10/2014 7:54PM

Stevens to suspend riding, get knee replacement

Justin N. Lane
Jockey Gary Stevens will stop riding in order to have knee replacement surgery.

Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens will stop riding immediately and have knee replacement surgery, but hopes to return after he does rehabilitation, he said Thursday afternoon on HRTV.

Stevens, 51, was forced to quit riding twice previously, both times largely because of knee issues. He returned to riding this most-recent time in January 2013 and had great success over the past 18 months, including victories last year in the Preakness Stakes, Breeders’ Cup Classic, and Breeders’ Cup Distaff.

“The time has come to do this,” said Stevens, who said he would return to broadcasting if he cannot return to riding. “Let's see where we go from here.”

Stevens said doctors told him most people need six months to fully recover from a knee replacement but that the timetable for him should be a bit shorter since he is a fit athlete. He said he hopes to be back riding “in late December or early January.”

Stevens made the announcement live on HRTV while being interviewed by Laffit Pincay III and Christina Blacker. Stevens said he had had fluid drained from his knee twice in recent days and doctors told him “no more needles in there.”

“I’m excited about getting a new knee,” said Stevens, who said he has been fighting knee problems for months. “I am uncomfortable.

“It keeps swelling up,” he said. “I knew the day was going to come when it was going to blow up.”

Stevens said he is “not raising the white flag” on his riding career.

“I’m not retired. I’m taking a break,” said Stevens, who said he would spend the summer with his family – wife Angie and daughter Maddie – at Del Mar. “In my mind, I’m not finished.”

Stevens did say that he will not return to riding “if I can’t come back” to the level at which he has competed.

Stevens has won more than 5,000 races in his career, including 4,988 in North America. He has spent portions of his career in France and Hong Kong and has won major international races such as the Dubai World Cup and the Japan Cup.

This year, Stevens has won 31 races from 145 mounts.

Stevens, a three-time winner of the Kentucky Derby, was voted into the Hall of Fame in 1997. He won the Eclipse Award as champion jockey of 1998.

Stevens has done well with other pursuits. He played George Woolf in the acclaimed 2003 movie “Seabiscuit,” acted in the 2011 HBO series “Luck,” and has done network television analysis with NBC. He also has been a trainer and a jockey agent.

Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you can't say anything nasty & negitive about Stevens please don't comment at all. This nicie, nicie stuff is making me sick. There is no statute of limitations on cheating.
Susan Huart More than 1 year ago
I'm hoping the best outcome, a return to racing. Gary, you will be missed. You made 2013 exciting. Be well and best of luck for complete recovery!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Typo, "These" should be There
mike More than 1 year ago
Looks like we both agree on something. Talk about self centered,Stevens wrote the book. Don't care for him in the slightest.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
He is all about I & me.
mike More than 1 year ago
That's exactly it. A big ego for a little man. lol
John Burton More than 1 year ago
God bless Gary Stevens in his upcoming knee-replacement surgery and in the next phase of his professional journey. I know whatever it will be, it will be done with professionalism, class, and his likable and unique attributes! God Speed!
TEDK215 More than 1 year ago
JB gets the award for most naïve comment on this blog!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Who is Leboron?
Susan Huart More than 1 year ago
Who r u?
Susan Huart More than 1 year ago
redboy More than 1 year ago
Its been absolutely amazing watching this guy come back at the age of 50 and out perform guys half his age .good luck with the rehab G.S hope you get well sooner than later ,but in any case just get well .
RandomNameMeToo More than 1 year ago
Lots of mean-spirited, negative people on this site--also a lot of good ones, but the bad ones sure drag down the tone! If Gary Stevens recovers to his satisfaction and wants to ride again, more power to him.
MD23 More than 1 year ago
TO THE PEOPLE WRITING HATEFUL COMMENTS: Your comments are laughable. Sure he likes the spotlight, I will give you that, but he is stil a classy guy who has done a hell of a lot in his career. Sure he gives a bad ride sometimes but every jockey does. As long as he and his family are ok with him riding, what do you people have a right to write on here what he should or shouldn't be doing? You wouldn't want me writing to you what you should be doing with your careers. He's not in the Hall of Fame for nothing....
TEDK215 More than 1 year ago
let me ask u this md? how come Michael Vick had to pay a price for his INHUMANITY towards dogs but stevens and lukas get to be in the hof? do u not think that is the HEIGHT OF HYPOCRISY? are u just another bystander like the drf who only cares about "the good ol boys?
mike More than 1 year ago
Charlie More than 1 year ago
Micheal may be tall and convicted, and Gary may be short and yet to be charged, but that is no reason to play the height card...
Hail No More than 1 year ago
Not a good comparison, let alone topic, with mvick
TEDK215 More than 1 year ago
yeah, stevens & lukas are so much better than him huh? their real upstanding horsemen huh?
Mark Howell More than 1 year ago
how interesting is it that the allegations of buzzed or illegal riding and the near decision of suspending riding has come to this rider. We must question this matter.
TEDK215 More than 1 year ago
Bob More than 1 year ago
Steven's is like a punch-drunk boxer....he just doesn't know when to quit. In spite of all the evidence suggesting that it would be in his best interest to stop riding altogether, he just can't pry himself away from the limelight. Not to say he isn't/wasn't a great rider in his day but the fact is that father time has caught up with him and as with any endeavor there comes a time to call it quits. As a horse player I don't like riders who come and go from the scene because they represent too much of a variable. The same thing happened over and over again with P Val. He would leave the game for a while, then come staggering back to the track, briefly get his act together; start winning races and riding circles around his competition. Then he would screw up again and disappear from the scene until he came to his senses and started the cycle over again. Now he is broke and pathetic.... Stevens isn't in the same boat. He has money, fans, good looks, and a made-for-TV personality. There is a world of opportunity that awaits him and frankly he is a fool to continue riding at his age and considering the nature of his physical disability.
Forego615185715 More than 1 year ago
You are a great rider with experience that can't be matched,will be praying you come back,you are needed