Another thoroughbred racing season opens Friday night at Remington Park with yet another milestone about to be reached by veteran jockey Cliff Berry.
Berry, who already has more wins aboard a thoroughbred than any other jockey in Remington Park history, will get win No. 2,000 at the Oklahoma City racetrack with his next victory.
“That’s a lot of wins,” Berry said. “Of course, I have been here a long time.”
Berry literally has been at Remington Park forever. He was aboard a horse in the very first race ever held at the track in 1988.
Since then, the Jones jockey has been the top seasonal rider at Remington Park 15 times. In his career at all racetracks, Berry has 4,242 thoroughbred victories, good for 58th on the all-time list.
He has 26,872 thoroughbred mounts of which his horses have finished first, second or third. His career thoroughbred mount earnings are $61.4 million.
Twice Berry has won the Oklahoma Derby. He won in 2003 on Comic Truth and in 2006 aboard Mr Pursuit. Three years ago, Berry was inducted into the Oklahoma Horse Racing Hall of Fame.
“I am proud of how my career came out,” Berry said. “I struggled when I started out.”
Growing up, Berry’s father owned horses. Between his junior and senior years of high school in Stroud, Berry took a summer job in Midway Downs where he learned to ride.
“I hadn’t planned on it being a career,” he said.
At age 51, Berry doesn’t have a timetable on when he might retire from horse racing. He says it will come sometime soon but for now, he still loves to ride and loves to win.
“That’s the sickness,” Berry said of being in the winner’s circle. “That’s what it’s all about.”
Berry won two races on the final day of thoroughbred racing at Remington Park last season, giving him 1,999 career thoroughbred wins at the racetrack. He has had to wait eight months for a chance at No. 2,000.
Nine races are scheduled for Friday’s opening night and Berry will be on six mounts. He also will be aboard Code West in Saturday night’s $175,000 Governor’s Cup at Remington Park.
Berry wants to get his 2,000th win right away and move on to the next one.
“The sooner the better,” he said. “I want to get it over with. Sometimes, with a milestone, you get stuck on it.”
Chances are, Berry won’t be stuck on win 1,999 for very long.