Gary Stevens finished second in the last ride of his Hall of Fame career, pushing heavily favored Louve Royale within a length of winner Moonshine Gal in a 1 1-16-mile (1,700-meter) race at Churchill Downs on Saturday.
Despite the loss, Stevens left as "the happiest guy in the world," he said to the applause from thousands of fans on a cold, overcast day.
Stevens finished with 5,005 career victories and more than $220 million in purse earnings. He will stay involved in horse racing, serving as an TV analyst.
Stevens won the Kentucky Derby three times - aboard Winning Colors in 1988, Thunder Gulch in 1995 and Silver Charm in 1997, AP reports.