LOS ANGELES (AP) Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens will undergo hip replacement surgery before Christmas, which could put a premature end to his career. The 53-year-old says he doesn’t yet know whether he can return to riding next year.
Stevens announced the surgery in a statement released this week by his wife Angie. He says he’s been having problems with his hip in recent months and underwent tests on Monday that indicated surgery should be done soon.
Stevens is coming off a successful year in which he won 40 races from 316 mounts and had earnings of $5.9 million. He rode Beholder to a nose victory in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff at Santa Anita last month.
“I wasn’t ready to hang it up and I still don’t know if I’m ready,” he said in the statement. “All I can do is have it done and hope for the best. I hope I’m in a position in a few months where I can make the choice if I want to go back to riding or not.”
Stevens has battled knee problems in recent years that led to temporary retirements. He made a comeback in January 2013 after being away for seven years and won the Preakness and Breeders’ Cup Classic that year.
In 2014, he underwent knee replacement surgery that resulted in a four-month break.
Stevens has won 5,083 races in his career that began in 1979. He won the Kentucky Derby in 1988, 1995 and 1997.