Year Inducted: 2018
Given where he grew up and who he grew up around, it was almost a stone-cold lock that Jimmy Brooks would have some sort of career involvement in horse racing.
Another Brooks hailing from Blanchard, Okla., Jimmy’s father Roy became a jockey on a full-time basis when Jimmy was still young. His father’s travels and success led Jimmy to a brief flirtation, riding a few stakes races, and winning them, at Prescott Downs in Arizona in the late 1970s.
After a few years, Jimmy Brooks was back in the saddle, on a regular basis. The American Quarter Horse Association recognizes his first victories starting in 1984. His career took off at that point as Brooks accumulated wins in mass quantities, with 144 victories in 1987 and another 108 wins in 1988. Race-riding around Oklahoma prepared Brooks for the opening of Remington Park and its first Quarter Horse Season in 1989.
Brooks posted 29 wins in the inaugural season at Remington Park, good for fifth in the jockey standings. He compiled another 21 wins in 1990, finishing sixth in the standings. Just when it looked like a consistently successful riding career had taken flight, it was forced to land again. The racing business for Brooks fell off drastically. It would be years before he could overcome some hurdles and get back in the saddle prominently.
As the late 1990s rolled around, Jimmy Brooks was gaining traction, finding mounts and beginning to have a taste of the success he enjoyed nearly 10 years earlier. Brooks reappeared in the top 10 of the Remington Park jockey standings in 1997 with 12 wins. In 1998, his 21 victories were good for fifth-place.
Flying Dino provided the first Grade 1 win for Brooks when they won the 1998 Remington Park Futurity. Owned by Southern Rose Ranch of South Carolina and trained by Donnie Strickland, Flying Dino was voted Remington Park’s Champion 2-year-old for 1998.
Brooks picked up another Grade 1 score by winning the Ruidoso Futurity at Ruidoso Downs, N.M. in 1999 aboard Chick On The Take. However, as the new millennium arrived, frequent winner’s circle trips once again became scarce for Brooks. He would have to work his way through another long spell where wins and talented mounts were lean. Brooks even left racing for a few years before making a serious comeback.
By the late 2000s, the racing scene in Oklahoma was on an upswing. Remington Park was enjoying a resurgence thanks to its casino business with purses rising to historic heights. Brooks returned to action in 2009, finding his way back on horseback in a powerful barn that had numerous horses and plenty of talent.
Trainer Eddie Willis gave Brooks a golden opportunity to be his first-call jockey. Brooks took the leg-up and did not relinquish that seat. Through hard work and perseverance the win numbers began to climb with mount earnings larger than ever before. Brooks and Willis regularly teamed for stakes triumphs at Remington Park, Will Rogers Downs in Claremore, Okla. and out of state at Ruidoso Downs, Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie, Texas and at Los Alamitos in southern California.
Brooks won a share of the Remington Park jockey title in 2010, winning 55 races. He tied for leading rider with G.R. Carter who was in the middle of a 12-year run at the top of the standings. The sole seasonal title for Brooks was a milestone achievement, helping to ease the many lowly years that came before it.
Top stakes wins at Remington Park and beyond became common for Brooks and Willis including: the 2010 Texas Classic Derby at Lone Star Park with Streakin Down; the 2013 Remington Park Championship with Priceless Feature; the 2013 All American Derby at Ruidoso Downs with Feature Hero; the 2014 Ruidoso Derby with Rock You; and the 2016 Los Alamitos Super Derby with Big Lew.
The Brooks resurgence continues as he now has nearly 500 career wins at Remington Park and according to the AQHA, he is nearing 1,400 wins overall with career mount earnings in excess of $19 million.