VETERAN JOCKEY LUIS QUINONEZ NEEDS THREE MORE WINS TO MOVE INTO SECOND PLACE ALL-TIME FOR RIDERS AT REMINGTON PARK
Veteran jockey Luis Quinonez needs three more wins to move into second place in the all-time rider standings at Remington Park, ahead of the retired Don Pettinger.
Pettinger finished his career with 1,419 Remington Park victories, 706 behind all-time leader Cliff Berry, who had 2,125. All three riders are in the Oklahoma Horse Racing Hall of Fame. Quinonez, 54, came into this meet with 1,416 and has one win in the first four days. He needs 101 more wins to reach 4,000 trips to the winner’s circle overall in his career.
“I used to think, ‘I’d really like to get to 4,000,’ but the last couple of years, it’s gotten a little tougher,” said Quinonez, who makes his home in Jones, Okla., just outside of Oklahoma City. “Now it’s, ‘If I get to 4,000 that would be great. I’m not going to sweat it.’”
He said he will celebrate if and when he moves into second place.
“I got my first win at Remington Park on my very first mount in 1989 when I was about 22 or 23 years old,” he said. “I had just gotten my riding license. I was just galloping horses in 1988, the first year here. The next year, I won on the first horse I rode – New Writer.”
His horse went off at odds of 22-1 for trainer Cliff Darnell and came home with Quinonez’s patented late run on the turf. He beat such riders as Berry, the late Pat Steinberg (winner of nine riding titles in the early days of the track and an Oklahoma Horse Racing Hall of Famer), Dale Cordova (10th all-time here and regular rider for Silver Goblin), and Tony McNeil, now the paddock judge at Remington Park.
“Second place would be great, fantastic,” said Quinonez. “I have so many memories at Remington Park, some good and some bad.”
He said one horse almost broke his neck after finishing second in the race.
“He jumped the tracks at the wire and I tried to grab his mane but I came off,” he said. “We still ran second because it was after the finish, but I came back with a bloody nose.”
Was he injured badly?
“Hey, I came back and won the very next race,” he said.
A jockey doesn’t win almost 4,000 times without a few X-rays in his life. He said he’s had several concussions at Remington Park in his career, but nothing major. And then there are the good memories.
He made it to the Kentucky Derby once aboard Suddenbreakingnews, the 2016 winner of the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park for trainer Donnie Von Hemel. The best trivia question to come out of that win has to do with who ran second. It was none other than Whitmore, who went on to win the 2020 Breeder’s Cup Sprint. Suddenbreakingnews won the Clever Trevor Stakes at Remington Park and finished second in the Springboard Mile in the fall of 2015 before moving to Oaklawn. After winning the Southwest, he ran second to Creator in the Arkansas Derby. Whitmore was third.
“Suddenbreakingnews has to be my all-time favorite because he got me to the Big Dance (Kentucky Derby),” said Quinonez. “Shotgun Kowboy ($1,548,648 earner) and Alternation ($1,064,727) were right up there and Brownie Points ($957,230), but going to the Kentucky Derby was awesome.”
It might have been awesome, but it was a nightmare for him early on.
“We drew the 2-hole and we almost got dropped twice before we went under the wire the first time,” he said. “I really thought we had a chance to win the Derby. I always wanted another chance. I’d been on horses that finished 22nd and 23rd in the Kentucky Derby list (top 20 get in) a few times, but this was my only chance. When I finally got going on him (with clear sailing) the horses on the final turn came out, off the rail, so I took it. We were closing fast and I thought I was going to finish third.”
Suddenbreakingnews finished fifth, less than five lengths behind the 2016 Derby winner Nyquist. Quinonez was within a head and a nose from running third. Exaggerator was second, Gun Runner (2017 Horse of the Year) third and Mohayem fourth.
“I thought we’d catch Gun Runner, but he just had enough left,” Quinonez said.
Quinonez said he still loves riding and competing.
“I still am in pretty good shape,” he said. “I’m not as young now, but this will be fun trying to catch Pettinger for second. I don’t think I can catch Cliff, but that’s OK. He’s my brother from another mother. We’ve been roommates before and we always play golf together. I don’t think I can, but you never know.”
Times have certainly changed. Quinonez won only four races that first year at Remington Park.
“And Cliff only won two, I think,” he said. “He won his first one early and then he ran second about 60 times before winning one more.”
Quinonez, going into Wednesday night’s race card at Remington, has had 26,803 starts in his career with 3,899 wins, 3,690 seconds and 3,532 thirds for $76,805,803 from his horses’ earnings. At Remington Park, he has ridden 9,719 times with 1,417 wins; 1,344 seconds, and 1,225 thirds for earnings in excess of $25 million.
With a little luck, he could tie the record Wednesday night. He has only two mounts – My Baby Blue (10-1) in the fifth race and Alternative Slew (5-2) in the eighth.
This is the first week Remington Park moves into a four-night racing week, with cards scheduled Wednesday through Saturday, Sept. 1-4. First post nightly is 7:07pm-Central.
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 Grade 3 Oklahoma Derby and Grade 3 Remington Park Oaks will take place on Sunday, Sept. 26. Visit remingtonpark.com for more information.