From The Blood-Horse

Photo: Dustin Orona

Photo: Dustin Orona

On the penultimate program at Remington Park before he retired, 53-year-old veteran jockey Cliff Berry was honored with several presentations as a show of appreciation for a career that spanned more than 30 years.

After being presented a bronze horse trophy from the Oklahoma Racing Commission and watching a video presentation of his career at Remington where Berry was leading rider 15 times, the jockey was surprised with a gift from country superstar Toby Keith during the Dec. 12 ceremony.

At the time of the Saturday night presentations, Berry was wearing the silks of Keith’s Dream Walkin Farms, for which he has ridden over the years, and had mentioned that as a guitarist himself he “wished I could sing and play guitar like him.”

Keith then emerged from the crowd and presented Berry with one of his acoustic guitars autographed by the star.

“Congratulations on being the winningest jockey in Remington Park history,” Keith told Berry. “Second of all, as you ride off into the sunset, I need a backup guitar player and I’d be honored if you’d come join our band.”

Surprised by Keith’s invitation, Berry finally responded that might not be the best idea for his post-riding career.

At the time of his retirement the following day, Dec. 13, Berry ranked 44th on the all-time jockeys’ list by wins with 4,457 and his mount earnings of more than $67.3 million placed him 84th all-time.

In addition to his success at Remington Park, he won titles as leading rider at Oaklawn Park and Lone Star Park, where he is also that track’s all-time leading jockey by wins.

Among the final Remington Park season highlights for Berry are his wins aboard Shotgun Kowboy in the Oklahoma Derby (gr. III) on Sept. 27 and the Oklahoma Classics Cup on Oct. 16. It marked the third victory for Berry in the Oklahoma Derby.