Year Inducted: 2009
The astounding career of G.R. Carter is a story of hard work, good fortune and unprecedented success. Born February 6, 1968 to Frankie and George Carter, G.R. was raised in the northern Oklahoma town of Pawhuska. As a teenager Carter began to gallop racehorses at the Osage County fairgrounds to earn enough money to pay for his rodeo entry fees. It was only after graduating high school that Carter began to think riding racehorses could provide him with a career.
On the first weekend of pari-mutuel racing in Oklahoma, at Blue Ribbon Downs, Carter dead-heated for the win in his first official race at age 16, on a horse named Beas Jeter. He rode sparingly in high school, focusing instead on school, wrestling, gymnastics and rodeo. Carter became a wrestling state champion in the 108-pound class and graduated salutatorian from Pawhuska High School. He was ready to attend Oklahoma State to begin veterinary studies but after a couple of big racing wins, he decided to bypass college and moved to Sallisaw, Oklahoma to concentrate on racing at Blue Ribbon Downs.
Carter won 17 races in 1986 after graduating high school. He improved to 57 wins in 1987, 108 in 1988, then in 1989 he earned his first leading jockey title at Blue Ribbon Downs. He won the title at Blue Ribbon again in 1990 while also winning the overall title for all-breed racing, beating Cliff Berry, Remington Park’s all-time leading Thoroughbred jockey. Carter was also the leading rider at Fair Meadows in 1990.
With his career on the rise, Carter moved to southern California and more lucrative racing at Los Alamitos. He was voted the American Quarter Horse Association’s Champion Jockey for the first time in 1993.
Having proven himself nationally, Carter returned to Oklahoma to establish a base at Remington Park in 1994. He immediately won the first of his 16 leading jockey titles that summer in Oklahoma City. Carter won every major stakes race at Remington Park, many of them multiple times, including the Remington Park Futurity (7 wins) along with three wins each in the Heritage Place Futurity, the Remington Park Derby, the Heritage Place Derby and the Remington Park Championship. Outside his home state Carter won nearly every major race as well, including a pair of wins in the pinnacle race for the sport, the All American Futurity, scoring with Falling In Loveagain in 1998 and Stolis Winner in 2008. He finished second in that race again in 2017 aboard Bigg Daddy.
G.R. Carter thrilled racing fans with his winning ways and with his style, often doing backflips off his mount in the winner’s circle after a Grade 1 victory. Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry declared May 31, 2009 as “G.R. Carter Day” in the state. Part of the festivities in his honor at Remington Park was a G.R. Carter Bobble-head giveaway.
Carter announced his retirement at the end of 2015, owning every major jockey record for the Quarter Horse Season at Remington Park. Among the marks; most wins in a season with 98 in 2008, and highest earnings in a season with $2,094,402 in 2011.
The retirement did not last long for Carter, as he began to ride in select races again at Ruidoso Downs in 2016. Focusing mainly on stakes events, Carter’s workload diminished but his championship drive continued.
Through Labor Day 2017, Carter remains atop the AQHA lists for wins with 3,842 and mount earnings of $72,066,402. Additionally, Carter has the most wins in Paint racing and in Appaloosa racing and even counts 335 victories aboard Thoroughbreds. Carter has accumulated nearly 5,000 victories (in all breeds) overall.
G.R. Carter was voted AQHA Champion Jockey 10 times overall, with six consecutive titles from 2003 thru 2008. His final championship, so far, came in 2012.