Danjer may be gone, but he is far from forgotten.

The late 7-year-old gelding was named World Champion Horse on Wednesday night by the American Quarter Horse Association at the 2023 Racing Awards Show at the Heritage Place in Oklahoma City. Danjer led the way of top performers who won at Remington Park last year, then picked up national honors last night.

Danjer, also voted Champion Aged Gelding and Champion Aged Horse, passed away in June 2023 following a Horse of the Meet campaign at Remington Park where he went undefeated in two stakes tries during the Spring. The winner of $2,499,432 in his career won both the Grade 1 Leo Stakes and the Grade 1 Debbie Schauf Remington Park Championship to earn his awards. Those winning efforts turned out to be the only two races of the year for the two-time World Champion. He was also World Champion in 2021.

Overall, Danjer was awarded with eight AQHA championships during his racing career for trainer Dean Frey of Edmond, Okla., who owned him in conjunction with Downtime Enterprises and Billy G. Smith.

Danjer was ridden to victory in his two Remington Park wins by jockey Francisco Calderon, who also was awarded on Wednesday night as top rider in the country for 2023. Calderon finished in a tie for third in last year’s jockey standings at Remington Park with 36 wins. Edwin Escobedo was the winner with 43, followed by James Flores at 40. Roman Cruz also had 36 wins. Calderon set a new one-year record for jockey’s earnings as his mounts brought home $7,210,173. Calderon was victorious in an astounding 11 races that carried top Grade 1 status in 2023.

In the Leo Stakes, Danjer faced off against such competitors as Head Patron, Just a Kool Boy and Flash Bak. Longshot (16-1) Nothin Like You ran second to Danjer, a full length back in the race while Head Patron (5-1) checked in third, another nose behind the runner-up. Just a Kool Boy (9-1), who was awarded AQHA Champion Aged Stallion for 2023, could do no better than fifth place in the Leo, a neck ahead of Flash Bak (6-1).

Danjer was even more impressive in the Debbie Schauf Remington Park Championship, winning by two full lengths over Nothin Like You, who repeated his solid effort from the Leo, finishing second as a 12-1 longshot. Head Patron (9-1), the third favorite, ran up the track in seventh place.

Danjer was bred in Oklahoma by Frey. In his racing career, Danjer won 22 times in 35 starts. He is a son of FDD Dynasty, out of the Take Off Jess mare Shez Jess Toxic. Among his other accolades, Danjer won Horse of the Meet at Remington Park twice and is the all-time winner of Grade 1 AQHA races, winning 12 of them. His $2.4 million in earnings sits behind only two horses – KJ Desperado ($3,031,599) and Ochoa ($2,781,365) on the all-time money earnings list for Quarter Horses.

Dark NME – Champion 2-year-old filly
Dark NME, sired by Hes Relentless, out of the Spit Curl Jess mare Quions, was the winner in her 2023 category of Champion 2-year-old Filly. The only race she lost last year in nine tries was the Grade 1, $3 million All American Futurity at Ruidoso Downs in New Mexico when she ducked in at the start as the heavy 1-10 wagering favorite. She ran third, about a half-length back of 15-1 winner Cowboys Gun Z. She broke eighth in a field of nine that day. The All American Futurity trial by Dark NME was by far the most impressive, winning by two full lengths with a qualifying time of 21.101 for the 440 yards. The next fastest was 21.394.

During her 2023 racing season, Dark NME won the Grade 1 Remington Park Futurity (restricted to Oklahoma-breds), the Grade 1 Rainbow Futurity at Ruidoso Downs, N.M. and the Grade 1 Texas Classic Futurity at Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie, Texas. Of her nine races in 2023, she recorded speed indexes of 101, 113, 122, 113, 109, 111 and 105. Dark NME is owned by TYKHE Racing, trained by Santos Carrizales, Jr., and was ridden to her victories at Remington Park by Calderon. She was bred in Oklahoma by L. Hendrix Horses of Norman, Okla. Her racing record going into her 3-year-old year is nine starts, eight wins and one third for earnings of $1,559,452.

Just A Kool Boy – Champion Aged Stallion
Just a Kool Boy, trained by Eddie Willis and ridden by Jimmy Brooks and Justine Klaiber, won the aged stallion category for owner Adina Baker and breeder Garrett Baker of Stroud, Okla. The Favorite Cartel horse out of the One Famous Eagle mare Just Eagle, won the Grade 2 Bob Moore Memorial Stakes at Remington Park with Brooks in the saddle.

The 2024 American Quarter Horse, Paint and Appaloosa Season begins March 7 at Remington Park and continues through June 1.

Remington Park has provided more than $343 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 racing schedule begins Thursday, March 7, as the American Quarter Horse, Paint and Appaloosa Season starts its 50-date season. Parking and admission are always free. Must be 18 or older to wager on horse racing or enter the casino gaming floor. Visit for more information.