Year Inducted: 2011
The first owner to stable a horse at Remington Park in 1988, Ran Ricks, Jr. was instrumental in helping legalize pari-mutuel horse racing in Oklahoma in the early 1980s.
An oil and natural gas exploration entrepreneur, Ricks became involved in Thoroughbred racing in 1979 when he purchased his first horse named Breaker Breaker. The Ricks touch for success in business quickly applied to racing as well as Breaker Breaker, a claiming-level runner, eventually turned into a stakes competitor.
Ricks and his wife Carol had purchased a 480-acre property near Crescent, Okla. in 1967. As Ricks horses began to win, and there became more and more horses racing under their name, developing the property into a Thoroughbred breeding and training center seemed a wise move and became a reality in the early 1980s. CresRan Farm was born and the Ricks family now had another full-time business, deeply involved in Thoroughbred racing and breeding.
Prior to Remington Park’s existence, Ricks horses competed primarily at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark. in the spring. As pari-mutuel racing was voted into existence in Oklahoma in 1982 and started in 1984 at Blue Ribbon Downs in Sallisaw, Okla., it was just a matter of time before Oklahoma City would have its own racing facility.
Ricks aided the cause for a track in Oklahoma City when Edward J. DeBartolo, Sr. sought a racing venue license for what would be Remington Park. The staff assigned to the project was provided space in the Ricks Exploration offices, allowing them to work on securing the venue rights and then the process of developing Oklahoma’s only major league horse racing facility.
Remington Park’s stable area was ready to receive horses on July 29, 1988 after nearly two years of construction on the property. Ricks had the honor of bringing the first horse into the barn area, leading the 2-year-old colt named Remington Country to his new home before a media gathering.
Ricks played a key a role in seeing Remington Park brought to life. Now that it existed, his operation would quickly assume the role as the track’s top owner. He was the leading Oklahoma owner after the inaugural season in 1988 and then won his first overall owners title in 1989 by winning both the Spring and Fall Seasons with 11 and 12 wins respectively. Among his top horses were stakes winners and fan favorites, Polly’s Rumor, Prom Queen, Plum Twist and Ben’s Lunch.
Trainer Steve Hobby had the charge of conditioning the horses put in his care by Ricks and they made a formidable team for the first nine years in Remington Park history. Ricks would win seven leading-owner titles through the 1996 Fall Season, posting a personal high of 16 wins twice when his horses earned him the title in both the Spring and Fall Seasons of 1993.
The leading owner title for the 1996 Fall Season would be the final Remington Park championship run for Ricks who passed suddenly on December 18 that year. He had won 168 races at Remington Park and at the time of his death was the only owner in the track’s history to have won more than 100 races. His horses won 22% of their starts and finished in the top three an astounding 55% of the time.
His legacy of winning and commitment to Oklahoma Thoroughbred racing is honored to this day at Remington Park as the leading owner title is named the Ran Ricks, Jr. Award.