Year Inducted: 2008
Perhaps no jockey worked harder at achieving success at Remington Park than Cliff Berry. That commitment paid off throughout his career in Oklahoma City, from the first day of Remington Park’s existence in 1988 until Berry retired from the saddle at the end of 2015.
Berry ruled the standings at Remington Park for the bulk of his final 20 years in competition. He retired as Remington Park’s all-time leader in wins with 2,125 and won 4,457 races overall in his career. He ended his career with Thoroughbred mount earnings of $67,392,106. Berry won the Pat Steinberg Award as Remington Park’s Leading Thoroughbred Jockey an unprecedented 15 times, with his first title in the 1996 spring season.
Berry’s career win total upon retirement was good for 44th on the all-time North American jockey list at the time. He had more wins than many National Hall of Fame Jockeys, including Eddie Maple, Jose Santos, Julie Krone, Robert Ussery and William Hartack, to name a few.
A native of Stroud, Oklahoma, Berry was still in high school when he started galloping horses as a part-time job. He rode some unofficial races there at Midway Downs and recorded his first recognized win in 1981 at Louisiana Downs. In 1982, Berry was that track’s leading apprentice rider. When Blue Ribbon Downs held Oklahoma’s first pari-mutuel race meeting, Berry became a mainstay in the jockey colony, riding Quarter Horses, Paints, Appaloosas and Thoroughbreds.
With the opening of Remington Park in 1988, Berry faced stiff competition from the influx of jockeys from around the country. While having respectable success, he posted only four top-5 finishes in the standings, in all seasons, during the first eight years of Remington Park. Ever popular with trainers because of his skills and his work ethic, Berry was spreading himself thin by riding so many horses.
By the mid-1990s Berry devoted himself to riding Thoroughbreds only. That decision proved to be a wise one. Berry won at least 121 races each year from 1995 thru 2015 posting his best mark of 240 victories in 2005. He achieved total mount earnings of at least $1.1 million every year since 1995 with a high-point of $4,759,049 in 2006. Berry became Remington Park’s all-time wins leader, as well as the all-time wins leader at Lone Star Park. He also won two seasonal titles, in 2011 and 2012, at historic Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark.
Berry was victorious in all of the top Thoroughbred races at Remington Park. He won the Oklahoma Derby three times, aboard Comic Truth (2003), Mr. Pursuit (2006) and in his final year in the race on Shotgun Kowboy (2015). Berry also finished with three wins in the Springboard Mile, Remington Park’s major 2-year-old race with Depop (2003), Going Ballistic (2006) and Grant Jack (2010). He ended his career with 26 wins in the Oklahoma Classics, posting more victories than any other jockey in the series of stakes races for Oklahoma-breds at the time of his retirement.
Berry was historically perfect on Dec. 10, 2010. He achieved an astounding seven-win night by winning all seven of the races in which he competed. He even picked up a mount as he was originally named to ride just six races that night. Berry became the fourth jockey to be perfect in riding seven winners from seven mounts, equaling a North American racing record.