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The Inside Track with Gary Stevens: Part 2

HBO:

What are the kind of things jockeys have put themselves through in an effort to make weight?

Gary Stevens:

Back in the day, jockeys used to take a lot of speed to keep them moving and to take away their appetite. Now, most of the racing jurisdictions test the jockeys for amphetamines and other kinds of drugs. Things have changed a lot.

HBO:

At the end of episode 208, Leon asks Ronnie for advice on the best weight loss drugs, but Ronnie refuses to answer. What is Ronnie trying to save Leon from?

 

Gary Stevens:

Ronnie's been down this road.  He knows what it's done to his body and to his business in the long run. He doesn't want to expose the Bug Boy to it. He also says, "I don't want to f**k up my own luck to help you." But basically he's saying, don't screw up your whole life for something that you're probably going to outgrow anyway.

HBO:

Can Leon make it without drugs?

Gary Stevens:

Ronnie's been around the block. He's been at the top of his game at a certain point of his career, and he knows every trick of the trade. He's a cool, calm relaxed customer. He's most at peace with himself when he's on a horse's back riding a race. He gets a little frustrated at the younger riders who don't really understand things, but it's part of his duty to educate the younger riders. If someone makes a stupid move on the race track, then it can cause a chain reaction of horses falling one after another, like an automobile accident. You're relying on everyone to ride safely.

HBO:

Can you talk about the politics of male versus female jockeys?

Gary Stevens:

It's changed a lot over the past 15 to 20 years. Female jockeys are a lot more accepted now than they were 20 years ago. That's because of a couple of female jockeys that have had some success in the bigger races. That'd be Julie Krone and Donna Barton, now Donna Brothers, and Chantal Sutherland and Anna Napravnik. They've knocked down the glass ceiling and proved that they can be as competitive as the top male riders. It's a little tougher for them starting out, since they have to prove that they have the same abilities that a male rider might have.

HBO:

What does the Old Man mean when he says that a jockey needs to wait and wait, and then "ask" the horse during a race?

Gary Stevens:

A horse only has so far that he can run at top speed. In my opinion, he could probably sprint for a quarter of a mile. The race is won at the finish line, not a sixteenth of a mile from the finish or a quarter of a mile from the finish. He wants the jockey to wait as long as possible before making the move. That means he thinks the horse is good enough to win in the final strides. He wants everything saved for the final burst of speed to win the race.

Episode 8