Gary Stevens was born in Caldwell, Idaho, on March 6, 1963. He began working for his horse trainer father, Ron, as a groom at age 8. By the time he was 14, Stevens was riding American Quarter Horses.
Stevens began his career as a thoroughbred rider in 1979 at Les Bois Park in Boise, Idaho, winning on his first mount. From there, he soon became a leading rider in Washington and then California. By 1985, Stevens had made a name for himself at the larger tracks and was riding primarily in Southern California.
Stevens burst upon the national scene by winning the Kentucky Derby in 1988 with Hall of Famer Winning Colors He won the Derby again in 1995 with Thunder Gulch and also in 1997 with Hall of Famer Silver Charm.
Along with his three victories in the Kentucky Derby, Stevens won the Preakness Stakes three times (with Silver Charm in 1997, with Hall of Famer Point Given in 2001 and with Oxbow in 2013), the Belmont Stakes three times (with Thunder Gulch in 1995, Victory Gallop in 1998 and Point Given in 2001) and eight Breeders’ Cup races.
Stevens has also won a record nine runnings of the Santa Anita Derby and in 1993 became the youngest jockey to surpass $100 million in career earnings. He won the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award in 1996, the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey in 1998 and the Mike Venezia Award in 1999.
Other notable races won by Stevens include the Travers Stakes (2), Kentucky Oaks (2), Santa Anita Handicap (4), Arlington Million (2), Pacific Classic (2), Jockey Club Gold Cup, Eddie Read Handicap (2), Del Mar Debutante Stakes (4), Japan Cup, Canadian International Stakes (2) and the Dubai World Cup.
Stevens retired in 2005 with 4,888 career wins and purse earnings of $221,212,704. He returned to the saddle in 2013 and won the Preakness with Oxbow for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas. He has also found success as an actor and television commentator. Stevens portrayed Hall of Fame jockey George Woolf in the film “Seabiscuit,” starred in the HBO series "Luck" and has done racing analysis for NBC Sports, HRTV and TVG.
Gary Stevens was inducted into the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame in 1997.