Racing Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens gave official confirmation Thursday to the rumors that have been flying since he started getting back on thoroughbreds eight weeks ago -- on Sunday at Santa Anita Park, he'll again start riding races.
"I want to give it a go again," Stevens said on HRTV, the racing television network for which he has served as an analyst since 2008. "There's been a lot of speculation, and I'm coming back on Sunday."
Stevens, who will turn 50 on March 6, has the call on R and R Warren's Jebrica, a 5-year-old Washington-bred Liberty Gold gelding. Trainer Jim Penney will send Jebrica and Stevens out in Race 6 on the Jan. 6 card, a $45,000 claiming event for 4-year-olds and upward going a mile on the turf. The duo breaks from post three.
"I haven't felt this way since probably five years before I retired," said the jockey, who suffered chronic knee pain and hung up his tack in 2005. "What I'm doing in the gym every day and on horseback every day gives me a pretty good indication that I'm good for quite a while."
Stevens will continue to serve as an analyst for HRTV and with NBC Sports while he rides races, but he plans to selectively pursue mounts. He has not named an agent to manage his book, but said, "I've talked to some people, and you should hear something in the next couple days."
A three-time winner of both the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes and a two-time Preakness winner, Stevens also counts eight Breeders' Cup scores among his 4,888 wins to date. A native of Caldwell, Idaho, he began his career in 1979 at Les Bois Park and was a leading rider in Washington before moving to California and establishing his name on the South Cal circuit.
In 1993, Stevens became the youngest jockey to surpass $100 million in earnings. His career earnings rest at $221,212,704.
"I didn't come back to ride five days a week, nine races a day," Stevens said. "I came back with the hope of helping develop good racehorses."
Stevens has been an active member of the racing community even after his retirement from riding. He trained horses, worked as an agent, served as an analyst for TVG and NBC Sports as well as HRTV, starred as George Woolf in the 2003 film "Seabiscuit," and was a regular cast member on the short-lived HBO television series "Luck."