By: Rebecca Roush
Jockey Ry Eikleberry won five consecutive races last Friday, with winners ranging in price from $3.80 to $15.60, and victories coming in sprints and routes on both turf and dirt.
Ry knew from a very young age that he wanted to race horses one day. The fourth-generation horseman grew up in Cave Creek, AZ watching his father and grandfather raise and train racehorses. “I loved to spend my summers in the barn helping my dad and learning new things,” Eikleberry said. He also enjoyed spending time at Turf Paradise where the family ran horses.
The 5-foot-9-inch rider began racing at Arapahoe Park when he was just 16-years-old and came to Canterbury Park a year later. Since then, he has had more than 12,000 career starts, riding both thoroughbred and quarter horses, and earned $32 million for his connections.
Eikleberry is a three-time Champion Quarter Horse Jockey at Canterbury Park. “I love the quarter horses,” Eikleberry said. He was aboard Painted Dynasty, the fastest qualifier for the June 9 Gopher State Derby two weeks ago. He also won the Thoroughbred riding title here in 2014.
One of Eikleberry’s favorite racing memories goes back to his first win in 2005 at Arapahoe Park where he rode Chopins Crescendo, a horse that he helped foal with his father. “I love that I can carry on my family’s tradition,” Eikleberry said. “Horse racing is something that gets in your blood and you just can’t get it out.”
Canterbury Park holds a “special place” for Eikleberry. One reason for this being that it is the place where he met his wife Jilique during his first year at the track. The couple now has two daughters, Revy (4) and Roan (1).
When Eikleberry is not racing in Minnesota he is often riding at Zia and Sunland Park in New Mexico, near the family’s home.
Eikleberry’s main goal for his career is to retire healthy one day. He would also like to win some type of graded race in the future. His favorite part about a race day is being in the winner’s circle and experiencing the excitement from the fans.
“I’ve always known I wanted to race horses,” Eikleberry said. He described a picture that he had drawn when he was in kindergarten. “We were asked to draw what we wanted to be when we grew up.” Eikleberry had drawn a rider on a horse with the word ‘jockey’ spelled backwards. “My mom still has it and likes to show it off,” he added.
If Eikleberry weren’t a jockey he says he would have liked to train horses. “I love teaching the horses new things and watching them take what they have learned and use it to succeed,” he said.