Year Inducted: 2008
Making the most of riding some of the best horses in Remington Park history, Don Pettinger was always a leader in the jockey colony since the track’s first day on September 1, 1988.
Connected throughout his career to the talented stable of trainer Donnie K. Von Hemel, a childhood friend, Pettinger’s winning Remington Park mounts reads like a Who’s Who of the best thoroughbreds in history here. Bien Nicole, Mr Ross, D Fine Okie, Best of KC, Notable Okie, Glaring, Burbank and so many more have crossed the finish first under the Colorado native. However, Clever Trevor is the horse that Pettinger will be forever linked thanks to the history they made together during the Oklahoma-bred’s magical 3-year-old season.
Pettinger was in the saddle in March 1989 when Clever Trevor won the first Oklahoma Derby (known as the Remington Park Derby in its early years). From that victory, Pettinger would ride Clever Trevor in the Jim Beam Stakes (4th), the Arkansas Derby (2nd), the Kentucky Derby (13th), the Arlington Classic (1st) and the Travers Stakes (2nd), amongst many other memorable races, many of them ending in victory.
The win in the Oklahoma Derby aboard Clever Trevor was Pettinger’s only triumph in the race. However, he did finish second twice (1998 & 2003) and third twice (2000 & 2004).
A two-time leading jockey at Remington Park (1994 & 1995), Pettinger posted 3,388 wins in his career after being introduced to the sport by his brother David, also a jockey. Born in Holly, Colorado, Don began riding races at Centennial Park near Denver in 1980 at the age of 18. His career included regular stops at venues such as Ak-Sar-Ben in Omaha, Neb., where he was twice the leading rider; Arlington Park in Chicago; Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie, Texas and Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark. just to name a few. Overall in his 30-year career, Pettinger’s mounts earned an astounding $45,977,180.
Pettinger won 127 stakes races at Remington Park, by far the leader for jockeys in track history. He is still the only rider to win more than 100 local stakes races.
The first jockey to achieve 1,000 wins at Remington Park, Pettinger passed the milestone in 1998 aboard Valley of Kings, trained by Von Hemel. Only he and Cliff Berry are members of the 1,000-win club in Oklahoma City.
Pettinger last rode at Remington Park in the Springboard Mile in 2009, finishing second on Man Chester Man, beaten only by a nose. He finished his Remington Park career with 1,181 wins.