‘The More You Do, The More You Learn’: Gary Stevens On Going From Rider To Agent

Hall of Famer Gary Stevens has worn a lot of different hats during his time in the industry, from jockey to trainer to racing analyst. He even had a brief encounter with acting for the movie “Seabiscuit,” but he is currently working on mastering being an agent for former Southern California-based jockeys Geovanni Franco and Tiago Pereira at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark. 

Stevens is best known for his career as a jockey spanning from 1979 to 2018, in which time he earned $258,217,768 and won 5,187 races in North America, including each leg of the Triple Crown three times, 11 Breeders’ Cup races, and many other notable national and international races. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1997, and won an Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey the following year.

Stevens’ father, Ron, was also involved in the horse racing industry as a trainer. His father introduced him to racing at a young age and even gave Stevens his first mount as a professional Thoroughbred jockey aboard Lil Star, who was the young jockey’s first win that same day. 

Stevens discussed his role as an agent and his passion for the industry. 

Question: What do your responsibilities as an agent look like day to day?

Gary Stevens: “I wake up at 4:00 a.m. and I’m out at the track by 5:00. There are certain trainers that I hit early on and then I sort of just work my way through the barn area. Really the most difficult thing is arranging workouts. Geovanni had some nice winners this past weekend. To be successful at Oaklawn, the jock has to work horses. Trainers like it when they’re out in the morning. I just make sure workouts are organized timing-wise, no conflicts. It’s not easy to keep everybody happy. It seems like everybody wants the same times.

I also book mounts for the future so that’s how the day starts. I’m also doing television for America’s Day At The Races on FOX every day as well. There’s no conflicts as far as entries go, other than on Saturdays when they take entries for Fridays so I have to go between where I do my television and the racing office. They’re busy, busy days, but I’m enjoying them.”

Q: Do you think that your experience as a jockey – as well as your wide variety of other experiences in the industry – helps you market your riders?

G: “Yeah, but I’ll tell you what, an agent’s job is not easy, but if you have a good product it makes your job much easier. I’ve always respected my agents, but I have more respect for every agent out there now that I’m doing it full time. It’s not an easy job and even though I’ve been around it all my life, there’s nuances that I’m still learning on the fly. There’s guys that have been doing this as long as I rode and their experience level, you can see it. I feel like the apprentice right now believe it or not, but being able to walk into pretty much any barn that I want to is a big help. I feel like I’ve got respect and I respect every barn that I walk into. I feel like I have a definite advantage with the reputation that I have.”

Q: You’ve already touched on some challenges to being an agent, but what is your favorite part about it?

G: “I love being out on the backstretch in the morning. I always have. When I was riding even at the highest level I enjoyed being in the barn. I’ve been going to the barn since I was a young kid working for my father and it’s part of my life. Without the mornings you don’t have the afternoons. I love watching the grooms work, the hot walkers, the trainers, the assistants, and just everything about it. One of my favorite things about being at Oaklawn is being at Wayne Lukas’s barn every morning and not necessarily talking about the present, but the past and Wayne making me what he calls a ‘gourmet coffee.’ We’ll sit and start telling old stories and I really enjoy that.”

Q: You’ve worn a lot of different hats within the horse racing industry. What is it about this industry that keeps you coming back?

G: “It’s my life. I really enjoyed training, but the way it is now with these big outfits and everything, it’s a definite challenge. I don’t know how some of these guys make it with small outfits, especially in California and New York with the labor laws and taxes and insurance. It’s a very difficult job to have. Being an agent goes hand in hand with what I did all those years riding, going by the barns, and being a part of it. I’m addicted to it and it’s all I know. I’ve got the television stuff that I’ve done and that also kind of goes hand in hand because I have to do a lot of studying and homework for my shows. That prepares me for my job as a jockey’s agent as well. It’s this giant web kind of like the internet and one thing just leads to another and the more you do, the more you learn, and the more opportunities you get.”

The post ‘The More You Do, The More You Learn’: Gary Stevens On Going From Rider To Agent appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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