TOP 10 REMINGTON PARK ALL-TIME JOCKEY BENNY LANDEROS RETURNS IN 33rd YEAR OF RIDING AS HE CONTINUES TO CLIMB LONGEVITY LISTS
Journeyman jockey Benny Landeros is in his 33rd year of riding racehorses and returns to Remington Park for this fall meet. He is the highest rider on the all-time wins list here that is not in the Oklahoma Horse Racing Hall of Fame.
Landeros sits sixth on the all-time Remington Park wins list with 691 in 8,701 mounts in Oklahoma City. That’s the third-most horses ridden all time here, behind only Cliff Berry (12,936 mounts) and Luis Quinonez (9,704). Berry (2,125 wins) and Quinonez (1,416) are first and third on the all-time wins list with Don Pettinger (1,419) sandwiched between them in second, followed by Tim Doocy (796) and the late, great Pat Steinberg in fifth (727). Those top five riders are all Oklahoma Horse Racing Hall of Famers. Landeros needs 36 more wins at Remington Park to tie Steinberg, whose career was cut short when he was killed in a car wreck on his way to Omaha, Neb., following the Remington Park meet in May 1993. Steinberg had won nine riding titles at the Oklahoma City track in his career.
Landeros has no delusions of grandeur of passing one of his favorite riders ever, Steinberg.
“Wow, I’m in sixth behind him?” Landeros said. “At Remington Park? I had no idea. I knew I was up there somewhere. That’s pretty good. Me and Pat were great together. He’s one guy that I never had words with. He was a real professional, along with Don Pettinger and R.D. Williams.”
At 52 years old, Landeros, despite finishing third in the most recent Fair Meadows jockey standings this summer with 22 wins, admits his career at Remington Park is winding down. He finished tied for 21st in the 2020 thoroughbred standings in Oklahoma City with five wins from 90 mounts.
“Sometimes I feel like I’m 20 and sometimes I feel like I’m 60,” he said. “I’m very healthy. I’m not going to ride many horses at Remington this year. I’m over here helping (trainer) Mindy Willis (who has 40 stalls this meet). I really don’t care to ride many horses now. I always say my prayers in the morning and if the good Lord lets me keep being healthy and gives me another three to five years of riding…whatever he gives me, whenever he tells me it’s time to let go, I’ll let go.”
Born in Querrdaro, Mexico, Landeros became a naturalized American citizen in 2008. He passed the 2,000 wins mark this year and now sits at 2,014 overall, riding Thoroughbreds, American Quarter Horses, Paints, Appaloosas and Arabians. He has come a long way from when he experienced a bit of a fiasco on the first horse he galloped in California when he was in his teens.
“An ex-rider named R.J. Garcia took me to Pomona and found me an Appaloosa to gallop,” said Landeros. “That rascal, he ran off with me about three times. That was a no-no and the outrider didn’t like it.”
Soon thereafter, he gained some riding knowledge from one of the top riders to ever come out of California, seven-time Breeders’ Cup race winner and Kentucky Derby winner aboard Sunday Silence, Patrick Valenzuela.
“I used to just study him when he rode and do all the things he would do with the reins and one day he told me, ‘if you get your license to ride, you let the horse tell you what to do. You’ll start to feel the horse and start to read the horse’s mind.’ All through the years, he’s been right. The horses will tell you. I’ve been on some that have loved their job and I’ve been on some that have hated their job.”
Garcia took Landeros to Blue Ribbon Downs in Sallisaw, Okla., when he was 19 and he started his official riding career there in 1989. His first year, Landeros went 0-for-22.
“I still didn’t have any doubts,” he said. “I liked my job so much. I still do. I love my horses.”
On April 15, 1990, he made it to the winner’s circle for the first time aboard Sea Bird Sonny at BRD. He gives a lot of the credit to the comradery of fellow jockey Troy Crissup.
“Troy came up to me and said, ‘Look, this ol’ boy is going to put you on this horse. Don’t fall off the horse because he’s very fast.’ I said, ‘Really? Then why aren’t you riding him?’ He said, ‘because I like you.’”
His first win at Remington Park came on Dec. 7, 1991, with Ultimate Problem. One of his favorite horses of all time was Strategic Leader, who he won with in the $137,800 Oklahoma Classics Turf on Oct. 22, 2010.
“He was so fun to ride,” said Landeros. “But he would worry you a lot, too. You never knew when he was going to fire or not. That was one of those nights when I didn’t know if he was going to pick up the bit. But he finally did and it was really exciting.”
Strategic Leader won by 2-1/2 lengths after breaking 11th from the gate and running ninth down the backstretch.
“I had some of the owners say, ‘Man, you had us sweating.’” Landeros said. “I said, ‘Yeah, I know. I was sweating, too.’”
His check for the ride was more than $8,000 for that win. Did he do anything extravagant with his small pot of gold?
“Nah, just paid the bills,” he said. “Maybe took my wife out to dinner.”
That’s all he really cares about these days. Not the wins. Not the ladder of success. He loves his wife, Lisa, his grown daughter Leiha with her two kids and his 11-year-old boy Levi.
“They make me happy,” he said.
Everything else is just icing on the cake.
Tracked by more than 167,000 fans on Facebook and 10,400 Twitter followers, Remington Park has provided more than $269 Million to the State of Oklahoma general education fund since the opening of the casino in 2005. Located at the junction of Interstates 35 & 44, in the heart of the Oklahoma City Adventure District, Remington Park features live and simulcast horse racing, and the casino is always open! The 2021 Thoroughbred Season begins Aug. 20. Visit remingtonpark.com for more information.