Stakes victories were the highlights of week three of racing at Remington Park and boosted Ali Rivera and Matt Whitekiller to Lip Chip Jockey and Trainer of the Week honors.

Rivera, 21 (his 22nd birthday is Thursday), also moved into a tie for first place in the jockeys’ standings with Roman Cruz at 11 wins apiece. They are three ahead of Francisco Calderon, leading rider at Remington in 2022, and Gonzalo Gutierrez, who are tied for third place. Whitekiller’s four wins last week included two stakes wins among the Paint and Appaloosas breeds. He won the Oklahoma Paints and Apps Futurity on Saturday night with Wire Transfer and also the Paul Harber Stakes with Livewires Turnpike. Whitekiller leads in the trainers’ standings at nine total victories (which includes wins for Quarter Horses, Paints and Appaloosas), one ahead of last year’s top trainer Dee Keener, who is tied with Trey Wood at eight wins in second. Whitekiller’s four wins for the week tied with 12-time winning trainer at Remington Park, Eddie Willis’ four.

For the week, Rivera’s four trips to the winner’s circle tied for tops with jockey Justine Klaiber. His 11 wins in 2024 put him into a tie for 19th in the country for Quarter Horse riders this year. His stakes win came in the Oklahoma Juvenile Stakes aboard This Eagles Armed. That gelding, a 2-year-old son of This is an Eagle, out of the Tac It Like a Man mare Empty Arms, had run second in his Oklahoma Futurity trial to Xpress Lane, but didn’t qualify for the final. Xpress Lane, who did, wound up running second in the half-million Grade 2 Oklahoma Futurity. This Eagles Armed recorded an 88 speed-index when he won the Juvenile Stakes while Joose Boxx won the Oklahoma Futurity with an 89 on that same night. This Eagles Armed had a time that would have put him second in the finals.

“We were all talking about that the morning after at the barn,” said Rivera, who hails from Elgin, Texas, just south of San Antonio. “I have very high hopes for that horse. Every time he’s gone, he has improved a lot. I feel like he’s going to keep on doing so.”

Rivera also won the Mighty Deck Three Stakes in the saddle of Ls Jacks Back and was excited about getting his first stakes win at Remington Park on that horse the night of March 16. He hopes his time in the spotlight won’t end soon and that he will be doing more post-race interviews in the winner’s circle.

“It was something special,” said Rivera. “I remember as a kid, hopping on social media and looking at those interviews (with other riders) and dreaming one day I would get interviewed. I enjoyed all of it. I think it’s all very neat and very professional.”

Last year at this time, Rivera had gone to Sam Houston Race Park to ride. He finally decided to make the big jump to Remington Park Quarter Horses this year.

“(Trainer) John (Stinebaugh) asked me to come ride his barn at Remington Park and I’ve always wanted to ride there,” Rivera said. “Try to make a name for myself with the top riders down there. Francisco Calderon and I have been roommates for three years now at Lone Star Park (in Grand Prairie, Texas). I admire how hard he works, his work ethic is something else. He once gave me my favorite riding tip. He said to not think on top of a horse; just do. It’s worked out very good for me, I think.”

Rivera idolized his father, Eleazar Rivera, as a kid and has tried to emulate him since he was also a jockey.

“He had me working horses when I was 13,” said Ali Rivera.

He eventually would like to see his name next to an All American Futurity winner.

“That’s my long-term goal,” he said. “To go up to Ruidoso and keep chasing those big futurities and maybe be AQHA World Champion (jockey).”

Rivera has gone from his horses winning $7,637 his first year, 2019, to winning $2,159,683 in 2023. Yet, he still has not had a mount in the Heritage Place Futurity trials or All American trials.

“I haven’t ridden in any of them at all, but am very excited to do so,” he said.

For now he is enjoying his view from the top at Remington Park.

“I’m really happy and blessed; I feel really good being up there,” he said. “All those top riders. I know it’s a very tough jockey colony and it’s an amazing feeling. I didn’t expect to be up there so early, but thank God. All our work has been paying off.”

Live racing continues this week with racing on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. First post time is 6 p.m. CDT nightly. There will be no racing this week on Easter Sunday.

Remington Park has provided more than $345 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 Remington Park Futurity for Oklahoma-breds is featured on April 27. The 2024 American Quarter Horse, Paint and Appaloosa Season continues through June 1. 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 remingtonpark.com for more information.