Dee Keener and Reliance Ranches won their second trainer and owner titles, respectively, at Remington Park for the 2024 American Quarter Horse, Paint and Appaloosa Season while jockey Roman Cruz won his first.

Keener made it consecutive years as the top trainer at Remington Park with identical 37-win seasons in 2023 and 2024. In this decade, when he passed the late, great Lewis Wartchow, for most ever wins in the Paint and Appaloosa industry, the Inola, Okla., resident also began developing a name for himself among his fellow horsemen in the Quarter Horse breed. The combination of wins this meet, an accumulation of those breeds, gave him 10 more wins than his nearest competitors in 2024, Matt Whitekiller and Jason Olmstead, who had 27 wins apiece. It was a much tougher road for Keener in 2023 when he won by only two victories over Olmstead.

Since 2019, Keener has boasted four Quarter Horses that have won graded stakes races – EC Revenge, winner of the Grade 2 Oklahoma Futurity in 2019; Dreamsville, winner of the Grade 2 Remington Park Derby in 2022; O Donovan Rossa, winner of the Grade 2 Pauls Valley Stakes and the Grade 2 Remington Park Distance Challenge at 870 yards this year, and Tres Crystals giving him his biggest Quarter Horse win ever, taking the Grade 1, $1 million Heritage Place Futurity in 2022.

In the money race, Keener also won as top trainer for the second time in the past three years. He won it this year as his horses took home $937,876, followed by Toby Keeton’s $812,587 and James “JJ” Gonzalez III’s $790,064. He also won this race in 2022 during the Tres Crystals year with his horses bumping up their owners’ bank balances by $1,558,136.

Keener’s lifetime totals, and keep in mind this is exclusionary of Paints and Appaloosas, are 2,409 starters, 370 wins, 329 seconds and 278 thirds for earnings of $6,405,135. If you count Thoroughbreds, Paints and Appaloosas, Keener’s lifetime numbers jump up to 5,830 starters, 969 wins, 839 seconds, 763 thirds and a bankroll of $15,439,113, according to Equibase statistics.

Reliance Ranches (Micah McKinney) of Guthrie, Okla., won the tightest of all the races, among owners. The battle came down to the final race of the meet, the Heritage Place Futurity. Going into that event, Reliance held a 10-9 lead over Dunn Ranch (Matt Dunn) of Wynnewood, Okla. Each of those owners had a horse in the $1 million final. Dunn Ranch gave it everything they had sending out Firey Eagle, who finished second to winner Kempton. Reliance Ranches’ Hott Temptation was off the board, but they were still celebrating their second win as top owner at a Remington Park meet. They also won the title in 2014 with 15 wins.

Reliance Ranches’ top horses this meet included Hott Temptation, winner of her Heritage Place trial in the fastest time of the evening on her qualifying night with a 92 speed-index; Mr Master Bug Stakes winner Coronados Fate; Coo Joe, who won a Remington Park Futurity trial; Miss Perrys Cowgirl, winner of an Oklahoma Futurity trial, and Tyger King, winner of a tough allowance race at the meet.

Cruz may have been the most endearing title winner of the bunch as he boasted of now being the proud owner of the Triple Crown of jockeys racing in Oklahoma. He now has won riding titles at Remington Park, Will Rogers Downs in Claremore and also at Fair Meadows in Tulsa.

“First, I want to thank God and my Santita (His Holiness) who took care of me the whole season,” Cruz said. “I won the lead at one of the most prestigious tracks in Oklahoma – Remington Park – now, if I can say I have the Oklahoma three crowns. Thanks to the owners, coaches and agent (Louanne Wainscott) who helped to make this possible.”

Cruz looked like he might be on his way to a photo finish in the jockeys’ race the whole meet, until he turned on the after-burners in the final month. He had engaged in combat for the title with Edwin Escobedo, last year’s winner; Francisco Calderon, the American Quarter Horse Association Jockey of the Year in 2023, and Ali Rivera, a newcomer to Remington Park. It was tight all the way, but Cruz persevered and pulled away to 43 wins for the meet, two more than runner-up Escobedo.

“It is amazing; I can’t believe it,” Cruz said. “It is a tough meet. The one that everybody wants.”

Winning the title was quite the remarkable feat considering Cruz’s background that led him to racing. He wasn’t like a lot of successful jockeys who grew up watching his father and grandfather ride. He wasn’t put up on horseback at 2 years old like some. He just happened to be out in a pasture with friends who had horses and when he got aboard one of those horses, a friend said, “Hey, you look like you could ride.”

In 2020, he gave it a shot, riding professionally as a jockey for the first time. He went from 12 wins in that first year with his horses making $157,085 to what is shaping up to be the best year of his career. At Remington Park this season, Cruz also finished second 36 times and had 40 third-place efforts with his mounts earning $1,082,311.

Remington Park has provided more than $349 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 presents simulcast racing daily and non-stop casino gaming. The 2024 Thoroughbred Season will begin on August 16. Must be 18 or older to wager on horse racing or enter the casino gaming floor.