02/22/2017 2:16PM

Stevens on track for March return to saddle

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Barbara D. Livingston
Gary Stevens works Pioneerof the West on Wednesday. It was his first workout since he underwent a hip replacement.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens, out since December after undergoing hip-replacement surgery, is moving closer to a comeback.

On Wednesday at Santa Anita, Stevens rode his first workout since being cleared by doctors to resume exercise. Stevens rode Pioneerof the West for trainer Vladimir Cerin through a five-furlong workout in 1:03.80.

“I feel better than expected,” Stevens said. “I’m not blowing like I thought I would. I feel good.”

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Stevens, 53, said he plans to resume race riding in early March. He has not ridden since Dec. 10 at Los Alamitos.

Stevens underwent the hip-replacement operation before Christmas and said his recovery has proceeded without difficulty.

In 2016, Stevens won 40 races from 316 mounts. His top mount was Beholder, who won the Breeders’ Cup Distaff at Santa Anita in November.

A member of racing’s Hall of Fame, Stevens said on Wednesday that he plans to increase his morning workload in advance of his comeback.