JULY 12th BLOOD HORSE TALKIN HORSES TRANSCRIPT
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Cedar Rapids, IA
Gary, thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to talk to your fans! I just wanted to say how wonderful it is to have you on the air now and how much I enjoy your very informative insights. What do you like most about what you're doing now? Do you miss riding?

Stevens
Thanks for the question! Commentating gives me the same adrenaline rush as riding, so that helps me not miss riding. I miss being in the jocks room. but I still get to see my friends and be involved in the sport I love. I like being able to eat and not having to maintain a low weight. The thing I like most is the live shows! You never know what is going to happen and I get to be involved and tell everyone my opinions and observations of the race.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Lexington, KY
Would you like to see TVG evolve into an all encompassing horse industry channel with heavier emphasis on the breeding, entertainment, and sale sides of the sport? It might take another channel, something like ESPN2, but I think it could be done.

Stevens
I think that would be great. TVG has evolved so much in the last year alone and is evolving daily. They are very open to new ideas and love input. This is something you should maybe recommend to them.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Bethesda, MD
Since most trainers and jockeys racing careers are longer than those of horses, wouldn't it be a good idea for the industry to focus on its people instead of its horses when marketing the sport?

Stevens
We have all been saying this for a long time. The horses have a shorter career span, so I think it would be great for them to focus on the personalities in the sport and help build up the personalities to bring attention to the sport.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Phillipsburg, NJ
Hi, Gary!! I just want to know, who do you think is the best horse you ever rode? You've been on some good ones!

Stevens
The best horses are Point Given and Rock Hard Ten. I can't pick between the two, but my favorite horse is Silver Charm.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Hudsonville, MI
Gary, I have really enjoyed watching you on and off the track over the years. I am a lifelong fan. Thank you for all the memories and best of luck for the future! You were the luckiest jockey in the world to have ridden my all-time favorite horse, Silver Charm. I am still smarting over his defeats in the Belmont and Breeders' Cup Classic. If he would have won those two races instead of finishing a hard-trying second, he would be a legend. Please talk a bit about those two races and if you would have done anything differently.

Stevens
I think Silver Charm was the real thing. He had heart which is what made him my favorite. If he saw a horse coming, he would not let them pass. I always wonder, if I had done something different, could he have won. I was depressed for about six months after the Belmont. But the Triple Crown will be very hard to accomplish ever again. I think he is a legend regardless of his seconds!

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Union City, CA
Hey, Gary, love your work on NBC and TVG. I watched every single of Rock Hard Ten's races live, and he is my favorite horse of all time. His missing the Breeders' Cup in New York broke my heart. You've said he was the best horse you ever rode. How did it feel to sit on him and know that he was so push button?

Stevens
There was no better feeling. He and Point Given I never got to the bottom of. They were just freaks. To know all you had to do was ask, and they would accelerate was an awesome feeling. That I miss!

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Diamond Bar, CA
How did you feel when you played George Woolf? Was it just like racing horses? If a young rider came up to you asking for advice, what would you tell them?

Stevens
Paying George Woolf was an awesome experience. It was like racing horses except I had a stunt double who rode! It was different because if we messed up we could do another take, but when we race you have one shot to do it right. I would tell a rider to never give up and work hard. Hard work and dedication pay off. You can never rest on your laurels.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Nebo, KY
Do you plan on owning or training any horses?

Stevens
My family owns horses, I own parts of some horses, I breed horses, and my dad trains horses. Before retirement I thought about training horses but I thought, I'm not retiring to work harder. But it is something I would consider in the future.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Katy, TX
I think Lava Man is the best horse in the country. Everyone keeps saying he must run on the East Coast to be considered for Horse of the Year, as if he is running against nobodies in the West. If my memory serves me, St Liam came West one time and was beaten badly, and no one said he lost his chance to be Horse of the Year for that failure. Ghostzapper only left the East Coast once to run at Lone Star in the Breeders' Cup and was Horse of the Year with only two grade one wins. Jerry Bailey said after Lava Man's heart wrenching Gold Cup win that he didn't frighten any of the East Coast runners and he had taken steps backwards, even though he fell to his knees at the start and still won in a time better than any of those East horses in the mile and a quarter, giving those horses he ran against at Hollywood five to twelve pounds. What do you think?

Stevens
You can't base Horse of the Year on one race. Good horses come from anywhere.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Grand Rapids, MI
What impact did Rock Hard Ten's retirement have on you retiring? Also, how good of a horse was he or could have been had he not been retired?

Stevens
I was considering retirement and my wife and I had been discussing it. I didn't know if I was going to retire when I did or if I was going to wait and ride the Rock through the Dubai Cup, as I thought he would be the favorite. When Richard Mandella and Ernie Moody called me and told me he was retiring, I decided to retire the following week. Horses like that come along once in a blue moon and, after I had ridden him and Point Given, I thought it would be a while until I had another one like it, if ever. I never got to the bottom of him, but it is very hard to keep a horse sound forever and luckily the Rock had great owners and trainers who cared about the horse.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Wrightstown, NJ
If you could return to ride one horse currently running, who would it be?

Stevens
Two year old Circular Quay.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Seattle, WA
Gary, how are your knees now that they have had a good rest? Enjoy you on TV, we learn a lot from you. Thank you!

Stevens
Thank you! My knees are not good. If I have a good day I think, "Oh, maybe I could still be riding," and then I try and go upstairs and I remember why I'm not riding.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Miami, FL
Greetings from sunny Miami! Of all the outstanding horses you have ridden, which one would you consider to be the most difficult to figure out? I am referring specifically to horses that are doted with strange quirks, phobias, or preferences.

Stevens
There are so many that have strange quirks. Some are bad, some are good. They are just like people. Some you get along with, and some you don't. I would always tell a trainer, I don't match this horse. He/she can really run but not with me on them. The most difficult to figure out would have to be Gentleman.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Weston, CT
I was wondering: since retirement from jockey hood, what do you miss most about riding in races? Also, how is the Hollywood thing going?

Stevens
I miss hanging out in the jocks room with my friends. I am lucky because I get to see them at the races. I miss hanging out in the jockeys room and I miss the competitiveness.

I have some scripts I am looking at and would love to do more, but I am loving the broadcasting.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Plano, TX
Are you going back to Les Bois Park this weekend??

Stevens
I am in Boise while answering these questions and, yes, I will be at Les Bois this weekend.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Baltimore, MD
What is the biggest difference now as a handicapper from when you were a jockey? You must look at the race differently. What keys can you give to the day to day horseplayer?

Stevens
Honestly, I have to spend even more time handicapping. When I would handicap as a jockey, I would handicap how to ride the race to win, how the other jockeys would ride, and where I wanted to be in a race. Now I handicap for people to bet. I was telling everyone I'm not a handicapper I'm an analyst, but then my picks starting hitting so I hope I'm helping fans bet! For the horseplayer today, I would say watch TVG! We have great analysts and handicappers who have been giving out winners!!!

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

San Diego, CA
I always loved watching you ride, and I think you are doing a great job on NBC and TVG. I especially enjoyed the interviews with Pincay Jr., McCarron, and Cordero. We look forward to welcoming you to Del Mar next week -- have a wonderful time, and I hope you get a chance to play the South Course at Torrey Pines while you are here.

OK, imagine a Kentucky Derby with only seven entrants: Thunder Gulch, Silver Charm, Point Given, Rock Hard Ten, Winning Colors, Serena's Song, and Silverbulletday and--due to an incredible cloning experiment--you are riding all the horses at the peak of your form. Who would get the Roses? Thanks for taking my question, and I hope you have fun with it.

PS -- when is TVG going to interview you for "Legends"?

Stevens
I have been asked this question before and I plead the fifth! They were all amazing! But it is a great question and anything can happen in the Derby! I don't know when TVG will interview me for the Legends, but it is flattering you asked!

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

San Antonio, TX
How much fun did you have during the movie Seabiscuit?

Stevens
I had a great time! I met my wife, and made some great friends. It really is like the horse racing industry where a film set is a big family.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

San Juan, Puerto Rico
Thank you so much for your outstanding legacy as one of America's top jockeys, especially for having the rare opportunity of winning two Kentucky Derbies with two gray horses (Winning Colors and Silver Charm). I would like to know if, during your long career as a jockey, you noticed or experienced a special bond with gray equines, or it was just mere coincidence?

Stevens
Thank you! And I won 3 Derbies and 2 of those were on grays. I always had a bond with fillies for some reason. I had a lot of great gray horses, so maybe I did have a special bond. You may be on to something here.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Karachi, Pakistan
In terms of competition, who was the rider you feared the most?

Stevens
There were so many of them. Pincay, Cordero, McCarron, Bailey, Pat Day. You always wanted to meet up at the wire with a strong finisher because then it was on! Today, there are great ones, too...Mike Smith, Desormeaux, Solis.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Louisville, KY
Gary, thanks for staying in the industry and "giving back". As a lifelong fan of the sport, your entire career has been a joy to follow. Your insight and on-air personality are second to none. We're glad you chose Louisville as home. If you had to pick one horse and a backup to get you to the $4M Classic at Churchill Downs this year at this point in time, who would they be? And if you were Czar of Racing, what would you do to hook the kids of today on this great sport? Finally, I will be in the market for a car soon and I was wondering if you could get me a discount at our local Hyundai dealer? Thanks.

Stevens
As for Hyundai, head into Oxmoor Hyundai on Shelbyville Road, and they will give you the best deal! they are great!!!

To hook kids and fans today, I would not charge to enter a race track. I would not charge for parking. Get the fans in the gate!!! Our industry hasn't been marketed right and we really need to market the personalities and get it into the limelight as NASCAR has done.

We love Louisville!!!!

Lava Man and Invasor are the two I would pick for Breeders' Cup, but it is a long time until the Breeders' Cup!

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Del Mar, CA
Congratulations on being honored by Governor Risch of Idaho and at Le Bois Park this week. Did you ever think back when you were 16 years old, that your home state would dedicate an entire week to you and that you would have a race named after you? Here's my question: Some are of the opinion that having racing year-round results in smaller fields and lower attendance at the tracks -- that meets like Del Mar, Saratoga, and Keeneland are successful because they are limited and, therefore, more special to the fans and horsemen. I have heard proposals that horses, jockeys, and trainers take a break after the Breeders' Cup, get some rest over the holidays, and resume racing the day after Christmas in CA/FL, and after the winter in NY/KY. Do you believe that horse racing would be a healthier sport (healthier for business, healthier for jockeys, and healthier for the horses) if year-round racing were eliminated? Thanks.

Stevens
Thank you. I never imagined that I would have a week named after me! It is crazy!

If racing were not year around, it would be better for everyone. The horses are worn out and therefore have more injuries and breakdowns. The jockeys are mentally exhausted and need a break!! I would always take a break after the Breeders' Cup because, mentally, you can't go year around. The owners and trainers could have a semi-break over the holidays and tracks could fix the surfaces, etc. The fans would like it, too. When you limit the racing, they want to be there during the season -- but how it is now, they know they can go year around. There is a reason Saratoga, Keeneland, and Del Mar are so successful!!!

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Lexington, KY
After firing its controversial management last November, the Jockeys' Guild seemed to be making some progress toward restoring relationships within the industry. Recently, however, with the hiring of the sports agent and the reverend, to many the Guild is going backward again. What is your opinion of the current situation?

Stevens
The jockeys are in a hard situation. They have not being paid what they are owed by race tracks regardless of who is running it. So if the tracks would step up and honor agreements, many of these issues would not exist. I know that Johnny V and Alex Soils and all the officers are doing everything they can to not end up in the situation they were in before. I wish them all the luck and know that they are trying to do the right thing regardless of what it might look like. I didn't know they had hired those two people yet. I think they need to hire a press agent so the public knows what is going on!

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Clifton Park, New York
To me, you have always been one of the class acts of racing. Congratulations and best wishes for more success. My question: what advice to you have for your fellow jockeys on the crazy things going on with the Guild?

Stevens
To keep their heads on straight and keep doing what they are doing, to interview a lot of people, and not rush into anything. No one knows how much time has been volunteered by the jocks and their families to get this straight. so please support the jocks during this time and don't believe everything you read!!!

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Roswell, GA
Your career has been a joy for your fans to watch over the years. We will miss your riding so much, but are very happy that you have gone into broadcasting and will share your expertise on the airwaves. My question is: I have always wondered if the jockeys, during the race, can hear the announcer's call. I would think that, if they could, it would be a help in keeping up with what the other horses and jockeys are doing. Does the crowd noise and track noise make it impossible to hear?

Stevens
It depends how focused you are. If you are very focused, you don't hear it. You know what the other riders are doing without hearing the call. If you are winning easy, you hear the call while coming down the stretch. otherwise, you are focused on what is going on in the race and with your fellow jockeys and horses. On Derby day, you really hear the crowd noise.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Syracuse, NY
Congratulations on an awesome career. Instead of asking the obvious question about the "greatest" horse you ever rode I would like to ask you who were the toughest jockeys you rode against. Maybe not the best, but the toughest. I have watched you on TVG and you seem to be such a class guy who cares about others. How did you manage to put that game face on that made you such a winner?

Stevens
I answered the jockeys question in a previous question, but I would add PVal in there, though.

You just have to be focused. Ask any athlete about the zone. It is hard to explain, but you just go into that mode and become intensely focused.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Matawan, NJ
It is so nice seeing you and Jerry Bailey doing race analysis. You both do a fantastic job. I am a first time owner, and my 2YO gelding out of Wekiva Springs is so big (16.3 hands) that I had to take him out of training to let his knees fill in. What do you think is the biggest mistake owners make with 2-year-olds?

Stevens
congrats on becoming an owner! the biggest mistake is rushing them to be developed for the Triple Crown. develop them slowly and let them tell you when they are ready instead of letting the racing schedule tell you when they are ready. I'm not saying the next Secretariat should skip the Triple Crown, I'm just saying don't force your horse to be ready if they are not.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Old Bridge, NJ
Given Point Given's awesome Belmont Stakes performance, do you think he would have won the BC Classic that year at Belmont Park? Tiznow sure was a big race horse, so it would have been an awesome match up.

Stevens
I will always wonder.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Lexington, KY
Hello Mr. Stevens. My husband and I bought a copy of your book The Perfect Ride at Keeneland last fall and we thoroughly enjoyed it. What do you think the future holds for racing in California? Between the short fields (like only five horses in the Hollywood Gold Cup), losing several prominent jockeys to the Eastern circuit, the uncertain future of Hollywood Park and Bay Meadows, etc., we can't help wondering if the installation of poly track will really put CA racing back on track or if there are just too many other issues. Thank you.

Stevens
The synthetic surface will help for sure (tapeta is my choice, but I'm not doing the surface). There are other issues such as year around racing, not having a national jurisdiction that makes laws/rules consistent throughout, and incentive programs or lack thereof and workman's comp that make jockeys/trainers/owners leave California. We have a chance to save it, but a lot has to be done. Track surfaces need to be fixed, racing days limited, and incentives and purses upped while workers comp comes down or is paid by other ways. Thanks for reading my book!

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

St. Louis, MO
You sounded devastated when reviewing Barbaro's breakdown in the Preakness as you mentioned seeing the "bad step". Thank you for not being a newscaster-like viewer by revealing emotions we were all struggling with at that moment. What were your impressions of Barbaro's behavior throughout the day and post parade? Do you think Barbaro's injury and the immense public support he is receiving will influence safety standards for the animal athletes? What do you see coming out of his injury for the sport?

Stevens
I loved Barbaro before the race but it is horse racing and anything is possible. I don't think he was injured before and I spoke with Edgar and that is what he thought as well. I think safety standards for horses are pretty good. We are on the right track by putting in synthetic surfaces. There should be national jurisdiction which dictates medication and such. I think his injury brought attention to the sport. It has brought a huge donation to the center that cared for him. So unfortunately, it has helped our sport, but you hate to see it at the cost of a great athlete's health. And, if he could have won the Triple Crown, I think we all would have preferred attention that way!

I reacted without thinking as a newscaster and I think that is what is important, be real.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Nicholasville, KY
We really appreciated your insights on the Triple Crown broadcasts this year - you and Tom Hammond are a perfect team. In your book, you talked about the different way you handle a filly vs. a colt. When you rode Winning Colors and Serena's Song, did you use a different strategy when they were running against colts than in their races against other fillies and mares?

Stevens
Yes, I spoke about it in my book too. fillies are like women; you have to have them think it is their idea. You can't fight or nudge them as much to do something. For some reason, I was able to do this with the fillies; now the women, that's another story! If anyone could tell me how to do that, I would love to know!!

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Islandia, NY
Thanks for all the great rides and memories. Of your Triple Crown wins, which is the most memorable and why?

Stevens
They are all memorable. My first Derby win on Winning Colors because it started it all, or Victory Gallop when I ruined the Triple Crown for Real Quiet. My good friend owned Real Quiet and my good friend Kent Desormeaux was on him. It was the closest spoil in Triple Crown history. It was as perfect to a perfect ride as I've ever had. But they were all special, Thunder Gulch for Michael Tabor, after I had just lost a good friend, and Silver Charm for the Lewises. They were amazing as well!

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Davie, FL
Gary, I miss you in the saddle already. My greatest memory of yours was in the '98 Belmont when you got Victory Gallop up by the nose of noses to swipe the Triple Crown from Real Quiet. My question is: was that a moment of joy or were you disappointed for the sport and Bob Baffert as you two came close the year before with Silver Charm?

Stevens
It was both. I felt what Desormeaux must have been feeling when I lost the year before. I think a Triple Crown would be great for our sport, but I got paid to win races and that day I accomplished that goal.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Burbank, CA
What's been the most fun since retiring - broadcasting, getting to eat anything you want, or growing your hair? I'm a huge fan - thanks for your time!

Stevens
All of it. The hair just happened naturally after I stopped wearing the helmet every day. Eating has been great, as has golf! And the broadcasting is truly wonderful!

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Whittier, CA
I really do miss you, and I know everybody else does too. Question? Whatever happen to Brocco? Keep up the good work on TVG, you are totally an asset to that network!

Stevens
Thank you! He was sent to Japan or somewhere to stud.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Caracas, Venezuela
First of all, Gary, thanks for the memories from all racing fans in Venezuela. My two-part question refers to the 1997 Belmont Stakes: could you describe the feeling during the stretch, and when were you aware of Touch Gold coming?

Stevens
This is in my book!

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

San Antonio, FL
I grew up in Southern California and spent many afternoons with my parents at Santa Anita. My mom says I used to tell her I was going to be a jockey someday while watching the horses. I eventually grew to 5'7'' tall, but continued my pursuit and love of horses. Years passed and my devotion to raising a family took all of my time, but now I have four horses, one I think you have ridden at Les Boise Race Track. His name is Ed's Andy Go, formerly owned by the late Edgar Anderson. I continue to spoil this horse, now 28 years old and completely rotten! We love him and treat Rascal (the name we know him by) like a true champion. After all, he was once ridden by you -- a true champion and horse lover!

Stevens
Thanks!

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Salt Lake City, UT
2004. Smarty Jones. A story that truly brought horse racing into public awareness more than any other year I can recall. A heart-wrenching story; not about a trainer or owner or jockey, but about a horse. I remember your comments about him after your Preakness ride aboard Rock Hard Ten, when you said something like, "I think we may be witnessing history in the making." Of all the near-misses for winning the Triple Crown, Smarty's was the most devastating for me. Which "near miss" horse most deserved of the Triple Crown, in your opinion?

Stevens
Silver Charm