At age 25, jockey Chris Landeros is only nine wins shy of 1,000, the first major milestone in a jockey's career.
Landeros has earned 143 of his 991 wins at Remington Park, where he will be riding in four races Friday on the opening night of the thoroughbred season. This season marks the 25th anniversary of the Oklahoma City racetrack.
Landeros just turned 25 in July an already is almost one-fourth of the way to hall of fame numbers. In horse racing, 4,000 career wins for a jockey is sort of the equivalent of the 3,000-hit club in major league baseball.
Oklahoma Horse Racing Hall of Fame 2011 inductee Cliff Berry, the winningest jockey ever at Remington Park, has 4,112 career wins.
If Landeros stays healthy, he may join that elite group one day at the rate he is winning. He already has 67 firsts this year and is winning 18 percent of his races.
As a result, Landeros is a jockey in high demand. After riding at Remington Park on Friday night, he will travel to Bossier City, La., and ride at Louisiana Downs on Saturday afternoon.
“Things are good,” Landeros said.
Landeros' first race was at age 17. He left high school after his sophomore year in Phoenix, Ariz., to begin a career as a jockey, but only after his mother insisted he obtain a GED. His father was a horse trainer in California and his grandparents owned race horses.
“I grew up at the track,” he said. “Riding is the only thing I ever wanted to do.”
Starting out, Landeros rode at Turf Paradise in Phoenix and won his first race after just a handful of attempts. He moved between the long spring season at Turf Paradise and his home tracks in northern California for a few years while honing his skills.
Landeros became a consistent winner when the racing climate in northern California started a downward spiral with the closing of one of the San Francisco Bay-area tracks, Bay Meadows.
That's when agent Scott Hare, who was in search of a new rider, persuaded Landeros to relocate to Lone Star Park in Dallas and race primarily in Oklahoma and Texas, where he was able to ride a lot more than in California.
Landeros raced for the first time at Remington Park in 2009 and was immediately impressed by the size of the purses in Oklahoma City.
“It offered a lot of money daily for horsemen to run for,” Landeros said. “It makes it fun and exciting. When the money is on the line, I like it.”
Landeros now considers Remington Park one of his favorite racetracks in the country. He hopes his 1,000th career win comes in Oklahoma City.
“Remington Park has been good to me,” he said. “As the years have gone by, I like it more and more. The track is in great shape. The money is good. It's a combination of everything you want.
“If you can be in the top five (jockeys) at Remington, you are doing pretty well.”
Thoroughbred Season at Remington Park
Friday and Saturday: Opening Weekend; First race at 7 p.m.
Labor Day, Sept. 2: 25th Anniversary Celebration
Sept. 29: Oklahoma Derby
Oct. 18: Oklahoma Classics
Dec. 15: Final day of the season/Springboard Mile Day