Gary Stevens is less than a year removed from knee replacement surgery.
On Saturday at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., the veteran jockey he will be aboard Firing Line and aiming for his fourth Kentucky Derby victory.
"It took a while for people, I think, to have confidence that I was back and not only back but probably better than I'd been in the past 20 years," Stevens said.
Stevens, 52, likes his chances in the 141st running of America's most famous horse race.
Firing Line narrowly lost to Dortmund in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita and the Los Alamitos Derby.
American Pharoah is the favorite, but unbeaten Dortmund is regarded as the chief competition.
Stevens said after Wednesday's draw that he liked Firing Line's No. 10 post position. The colt will be two spots to the right of Dortmund.