TORONTO — Jockey Steve Bahen, who rode 82-1 long-shot T J's Lucky Moon to a stunning victory in the 2002 Queen’s Plate, retired Monday.
Bahen, a 56-year-old Montreal native, had been pondering retirement since the end of the 2022 season. He won 1,574 career races, 44 of them stakes
"I'm going to miss it, but I'm healthy now and if I kept doing it, now that I'm older, that might change," he told Woodbine Entertainment. "I don't have any regrets.
"I had a good career and had some really nice wins.”
None was bigger than the '02 Plate victory.
"I remember right after it was over thinking that this was like winning the Stanley Cup," he said. "It was the dream of every jockey, especially the Canadian riders."
T J's Lucky Moon's winning time, though, was 2:06.88.
"It was a slowly run race, but time only matters when you're in jail," Bahen said. "That day, he was the best horse.
"The odds that day, he didn’t know what they were, and I wasn’t going to ride him like he was 82-1. I was going to ride him like he had every chance in the world. And when you look in the Plate history books, his name will always be there."
Ten years later, Bahen received the Avelino Gomez Memorial Award for his contribution to the sport.
"I went to Fort Erie with my dad because he was playing in an exhibition baseball game against the jockeys," Bahen said. "Avelino shows up in a cutoff T-shirt, cutoff shorts and no shoes.
"He steps up to the plate, hits one a mile and gets a home run. He crosses home plate and then just left. I must have been six or seven, and I haven't forgotten that moment."
Bahen will remain associated with racehorses and racing through his work with longtime partner/trainer Rachel Halden. He plans to gallop in the mornings at Woodbine and help around Halden's barn on the backstretch.
"Right now, Rachel has just started to ship back into Woodbine," he said. "I'm galloping the ones that are here now and helping out with everything else that has to be done in the barn.
"In a lot of ways, it's like I haven't stopped, but now I'm not riding in the afternoons. I still love the sport and I still love being around the horses. I always have and always will."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 27, 2023.
The Canadian Press