Hall Of Famer Gary Stevens Back At Oaklawn As Jockey’s Agent

In addition to Calvin Borel, there’s now another Hall of Fame jockey roaming Oaklawn’s barn area.

Gary Stevens, who permanently retired from riding in 2018, returned to Hot Springs Dec. 1 to begin laying the groundwork for the 2021-2022 Oaklawn meeting as the agent for Southern California-based jockeys Geovanni Franco and Tiago Pereira.

Stevens, 58, said he represented Corey Nakatani “during one of my retirements” and most recently had the book of Hot Springs native Drayden Van Dyke.

“So, not new at it,” Stevens said.

Stevens rode 46 career winners at Oaklawn, the first coming in the $500,000 Arkansas Derby (G1) in 1985 aboard Tank’s Prospect for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas. Stevens’ last major Oaklawn victory came in the $400,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3) in 2018 aboard Sassy Sienna for trainer Brad Cox. Stevens retired for a third and final time later in 2018 because of a neck injury. He represented Van Dyke earlier this year and continued to work as a racing analyst for Fox Sports and the New York Racing Association.

Now, he’ll be wearing two hats (agent and analyst) the next few months in Hot Springs.

“Tiago and I had been thinking about getting together for a long time,” Stevens said Dec. 3, opening day of Oaklawn’s meet. “He was wanting to make a change, get out of California. I got a phone call from here at Oaklawn that they were running kind of short of riders, that some of the guys who normally rode here decided to stay in Kentucky. Geovanni, I know he had some real good success here in 2017, won some stakes and rode for the right people. Geovanni was wanting to make a new start. Just a good opportunity to come out here with two guys that can really ride and are hard workers.”

Franco, who missed opening weekend to ride in Puerto Rico, is named on five horses Friday, Day 4 of Oaklawn’s scheduled 66-day live meeting that ends May 8. Stevens said Pereira is taking care of “some personal stuff” in his native Brazil and will arrive in Hot Springs Dec. 26. He will begin accepting mounts Dec. 31, Stevens said.

Franco rode regularly in 2016 and 2017 at Oaklawn, amassing 61 victories, including four stakes, and $2,573,621 in purse earnings. He rode 16 winners in his 2016 debut and 45 in 2017 to tie for third in the standings.

Franco capped his 2017 meeting by guiding Inside Straight ($41.40) to an upset victory in the $750,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G2) for older horses for trainer Robertino Diodoro. Franco won three other stakes races in 2017 at Oaklawn – $125,000 King Cotton for older sprinters aboard Storm Advisory for Diodoro, $125,000 Gazebo aboard for 3-year-old sprinters aboard Rockshaw for trainer Ron Moquett of Hot Springs and the $150,000 Purple Martin for 3-year-old female sprinters aboard Golden Mischief for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen.

A native of Mexico, Franco relocated to Southern California shortly after the 2017 Oaklawn meeting ended. He won the $400,000 Beholder Mile Stakes (G1) for fillies and mares aboard Secret Spice for trainer Richard Baltas in 2019 at Santa Anita and finished second aboard Lieutenant Dan for trainer Steve Miyadi in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) Nov. 6 at Del Mar.

Pereira won the $10 million Dubai World Cup (G1) in 2010 aboard Gloria de Campeao. He also won the $1 million Pacific Classic (G1) Aug. 21 at Del Mar aboard Tripoli for trainer John Sadler.

Stevens and the still-active Borel were members of the 2018 Oaklawn riding colony. Stevens rode 26 winners to finish sixth in the standings. Stevens said he’s tentatively scheduled to work for Fox throughout the expanded 2021-2022 Oaklawn meeting, adding Franco and Pereira also plan to stay until the end.

“We’ll be here until they chase us out,” Stevens said.

Stevens won more than 5,000 races in his career, including nine Triple Crown events. He was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1997 and won an Eclipse Award in 1998 as the country’s most outstanding jockey. Injuries led to his three retirements.

Stevens’ son, T.C. was an exercise rider for Diodoro at the 2020 Oaklawn meeting.

The post Hall Of Famer Gary Stevens Back At Oaklawn As Jockey’s Agent appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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