Gary Stevens was born March 6, 1963 in Caldwell, Idaho into a family of horse people. He came to racing naturally; his father Ron is a trainer and had him grooming horses at age 8; his mother was a Rodeo Queen; his brother Scott is a jockey and before he was 14, Stevens was riding winners in quarter horse races at the bush tracks and fairs.
Stevens rode is first thoroughbred winner Lil Star for his dad-in his first start -- at 16 at Les Bois Park in Idaho. Soon he became the top jockey in Washington, winning riding titles at Longacres in 1983-84. He moved his tack to Southern California where after a rocky and homesick start, his career skyrocketed. He won riding titles at Santa Anita four times (1986, 88, 90,93), Hollywood summer twice (1986, 88), Del Mar twice (1987, 88), Oak Tree three times (1986, 87, 97) and Hollywood fall four times (1986, 88, 92, 94).
He may have made his name out west, but is a familiar face on the Triple Crown circuit. His victories in the Kentucky Derby began in 1988 aboard Winning Colors, which he credits as his most exciting win. This was followed with victories by Thunder Gulch in 1995 and Silver Charm in 1997. Silver Charm came within a whisker of winning the Triple Crown.
In 1995, Stevens won the first and last legs of the series with Thunder Gulch, trained by D. Wayne Lukas. Thunder Gulch finished third in the Preakness.
In 1998, Real Quite won the Derby and the Preakness and looked to have the Crown wrapped up when Kent Desormeaux had him in front by five lengths in the stretch of the Belmont Stakes. And then along came Stevens. In one of the greatest rides in history, Stevens and Victory Gallop caught Real Quiet by a nose to win the mile-and-a-half Test of the Champion.
Stevens retired in December 1999 with debilitating knee pain, but not before he had ridden a colt named Anees to win the Breeders' Cup Juvenile the month before. Knee problems have plagued him. He underwent surgery to have a cyst removed from his right knee; returned December 26th of that year, but announced his retirement that day, citing chronic pain and wear-and-tear on his knees. Prior to that knee surgery were operation in 1995, 1997 and 1998. Following retirement, he became and assistant trainer for trainer Alex Hassinger and the Thoroughbred Corp, but not riding was difficult for him. He resumed riding October 4, 2000.
He was back in the Triple Crown limelight just a few months later with Derby favorite, Point Given, son of Thunder Gulch. After suicidal early fraction, on a phony-fast racetrack, the Bob Baffert-trainee finished fifth to Monarchos. But it was Point Given, Baffert, Thoroughbred Corp and Stevens who reigned supreme at Pimlico and Belmont Park, winning the Preakness, the Belmont. Stevens feels that Point Given deserved the Triple Crown that year and that Kentucky Derby is perhaps the loss he regrets the most.
In 2003, Stevens played the role of "George Woolf" in the acclaimed and Academy Award nominated move 'Seabiscuit.' In the same year, he was named one of "People" Magazine's 50 Most Beautiful People.
In 2005, Stevens retired from racing and became a racing analyst for NBC and TVG. He now commentates for NBC and HRTV and acts as a racing analyst/consultant for IEAH Stables and Pegasus Thoroughbreds.
Stevens is married to Angie Athayde-Stevens, whom he met on the set of 'Seabiscuit.' They have a two and a half year old daughter Maddie. Stevens also has four children from his first marriage: Ashley, TC, Riley and Carlie.