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This Day In Sports…May 3, 1997, 25 years ago today:
Caldwell native and former Les Bois Park jockey Gary Stevens wins his third and final Kentucky Derby, riding Silver Charm to victory at Churchill Downs. The former Capital High wrestler would take the Preakness Stakes two weeks later, one of three times he won two legs of the Triple Crown in the same year. Stevens triumphed in each of horse racing’s three major races three times for a total of nine career Triple Crown wins.
Stevens grew up in Boise, where his father, Ron, was a renowned trainer at Les Bois Park. Stevens dropped out of Capital in 1979 to become a full-time jockey, and he recorded his first victory that year at Les Bois aboard Little Star, a horse trained by his dad. His climb would take him to Portland and Seattle—and then to Southern California, where he became a national figure. Stevens’ first Kentucky Derby came in 1985, and his initial win in the Run For The Roses was in 1988 aboard Winning Colors.
Stevens retired from horse racing due to painful knee problems in 1999, only to return in 2000. His ailing knees forced another retirement in late 2005, but he resumed his career in 2013 and took the sport by storm with a win at the Preakness aboard Oxbow at the age of 50. Stevens and Oxbow would then finish second in the Belmont Stakes, and in November he would become the only jockey to have riden in the first Breeders Cup in 1984 and the 30th in 2013. He promptly won the Breeders Cup Classic aboard Mucho Macho Man.
During his second retirement (the long one), Stevens was cast in “Seabiscuit,” the motion picture about the legendary 1930s racehorse. He played jockey George Woolf to positive reviews and returned to Boise for a premiere event with producer Frank Marshall, himself a one-time Boisean. Stevens’ final retirement came in 2018 after more than 5,100 victories worldwide. He’s now 59 and is still doing on-air race analysis for Fox Sports.
(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra. He also anchors four sports segments each weekday on 95.3 FM KTIK and one on News/Talk KBOI. His Scott Slant column runs every Wednesday.)
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