The question was meant as much as a conversation starter as an actual query, but in this particular case there was really only one way to answer.
So, what’s happened in your life since the last Canterbury Park meet, Ry Eikleberry?
“Oh, lots of things, really,” he responded. “The No. 1 thing is that we had a baby.”
When and Ry and his wife, Jilique, left Shakopee after the 2013 meet, they pulled away in the truck with their RV in tow.
When they returned for the 2014 meet it was without the RV but with a five-month old girl named Revy Dilly, and, yes, there is an explanation for the name. And, no, if you’re familiar with the Eikleberry family, it’s not what you think.
You might recall that Ry has two older brothers named Rustin and Rhett, so the natural tendency is to surmise that Revy is merely a continuation of the traditional naming pattern.
Not so, says Jilique.
“We tried to stay away from the Rs and we tried to stay away from the Js in my family,” she said.
Nonetheless, Jilique did let her French roots show in the naming process. She and Ry chose Revy as a derivation of the French word Reve, meaning dream. And the middle name _ Dilly?
That was a concession to Ry’s side of the family. His grandmother was named Dilly. Her twin sister was Dolly.
That’s not all that’s new in the Eikleberry barn, so to speak, this summer. Ry’s long-time agent in New Mexico, Stan Johnson, is making his first appearance in Shakopee this summer as well. Ry has won three consecutive riding titles at Sunland Park and Zia Park since hooking up with Johnson and wants to see if that streak can be extended to include Canterbury Park this summer. “I had an agent and was doing OK at the time,” Ry recalled. “I was finishing second, third, etc. Stan said he could get me a title.”
And that’s the way it’s been since, at Zia and Sunland.
Ry, Jilique and Revy are not the only members of the family back in Minnesota for the Canterbury meet.
Returning as well after a hiatus of a couple of years is trainer Kevin Eikleberry, Ry’s father, with a stable of around 20 horses. Ry’s been on two of them and gotten as close as a nose and a length, for second place both times.
Nonetheless, he and Eddie Martin, Jr., started the week tied for the lead in the rider standings with nine wins apiece and on Friday night’s card, Eikleberry took the lead himself.
The circuit Eikleberry rides, Zia, Sunland and Canterbury, doesn’t allow much time at home in Phoenix. “We did get about two weeks there before the Canterbury meet,” said Jilique, a native Minnesotan.
“This is like my second home,” said Ry. “But Phoenix (where he was born and reared ) will always be home-home.”
Eikleberry doesn’t need an introduction to the Canterbury trainers. He had the bug at Canterbury a few years ago and is well known among local horsemen. That should ease Johnson’s burden a bit. He won’t need the learning curve that typically accompanies an agent or rider when they are testing new ground.
“Everybody seems to like him here,” said Johnson. “If they can’t use him on one particular horse, they’ll find another one for him because they know he’ll ride hard for them. Yeah, that makes my job a little easier.”
Johnson chuckled when told that over the winter, Eikleberry seems to have traded in the RV for a new daughter, although there is more to the story.
Rather than subject young Revy to the RV for her first summer of life, the Eikleberrys are staying with Jilique’s parents. Besides, hauling that RV from El Paso to Shakopee would have taken a bite out of the gas fund. What do you get for mileage with that thing in tow, Ry?
“Oh, maybe four miles to the gallon,” he said. The decision to leave the RV in El Paso seems pretty solid. Eikleberry hopes everything else about the summer turns out the same.
by Jim Wells