This time, jockey Gary Stevens is hanging them up for good.
The Daily Racing Form‘s Jay Privman reported Tuesday that Stevens' C4 vertebra is pressing up against his spinal cord, following a post parade incident at Del Mar on Saturday.
“There won't be any comebacks from this one,” Stevens told Privman. Stevens also said after an MRI on Monday, his doctor told him “You're done.”
“I was getting close anyway,” Stevens said. “Now it will be time to pursue other things, but thank God I'm not in a wheelchair.”
Stevens, who turned 55 this year, won his first race in 1980 at Les Bois Park in Idaho, his home state. By the mid-1980s, Stevens was winning Grade 1 races in Southern California. He captured his first Kentucky Derby in 1988 aboard Winning Colors. He won the Derby again in 1995 aboard Thunder Gulch, then in 1997 on Silver Charm. That year, Stevens was inducted into the national racing Hall of Fame.
Stevens stepped away from the sport in 2005 due to knee problems but two months shy of his 50th birthday in 2013, he announced he was making a comeback.
“My passion is still there,” Stevens said at the time. “Or I should say my passion has come back. I've worked a couple of very good horses in the morning at Santa Anita that kind of made the hair stand up on my neck and I haven't felt that in a long time.”
Five months later, Stevens pulled off a 15-1 upset aboard Oxbow in the Preakness Stakes. It was one of three career victories in the second leg of the Triple Crown. He also won the Belmont three times and had 11 Breeders' Cup victories. The year of his comeback in 2013, Stevens won both the Classic (Mucho Macho Man) and the Distaff (Beholder). He repeated with Belholder in the 2016 Distaff.
In his career, Stevens made 29,442 starts, getting into the winner's circle 5,187 times. His career earnings topped $258 million.
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