In the money finish for Stevens in comeback race
Arcadia, CA (Sports Network) - Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens made a successful return to the races as he began his comeback from retirement at Santa Anita Park. Stevens had one mount on Sunday's card after announcing Thursday his return to riding.
"I'm fit, I'm healthy," said the three-time Kentucky Derby winner. "It's been a long process getting where I'm at right now. It's been almost three months and it's something that I've worked very hard at getting to this point."
Stevens rode Jebrica in the sixth race at Santa Anita for trainer Jim Penney. The 49-year-old jockey had his mount racing second along the rail in the mile turf race.
Stevens moved his horse to the lead inside the furlong pole, but couldn't hold off a pair of late running horses. Jebrica and Stevens finished third, a neck behind the winner and a nose off second-place.
"My knees probably didn't feel this good the last five years that I rode," said Stevens on Thursday. "I've been getting on horses for the past eight weeks and there's been a lot of speculation about me coming back. I've worked some exciting horses over the past couple of weeks. A couple in particular that kinda made the hair stand up on the back of my neck, and I said 'Man, I missed this,' just the feeling of that straight power and speed underneath you."
The Idaho native has been working as an analyst for HRTV and NBC, and appeared in the movie "Seabiscuit" as jockey George Woolf. Stevens said that following his ride on Sunday, he would return to the HRTV set and for the time being, he would remain as an analyst with both HRTV and NBC.
Stevens, inducted into Racing's Hall of Fame in 1997, retired from racing seven years ago, but did have one mount in 2008 in a race with other Hall of Fame jockeys. .
The 1998 champion jockey, Stevens has won 4,888 races from 27,595 mounts for more than $221 million.
01/06 19:09:34 ET