GRAND PRAIRIE – The conclusion of Lone Star Park’s 19th thoroughbred season on Sunday was overshadowed by news that one of the track’s most prominent horsemen was retiring from the sport.
Cliff Berry, Lone Star’s all-time leader in wins by a jockey, said he will formally retire in December after running the thoroughbred season at Remington Park in Oklahoma.
Berry’s last day in Texas was grand.
The 52-year-old brought three horses to the winner’s circle Sunday, including Man of Stature — a gelding — trained by Bret Calhoun, in a runaway in Race 1.
Berry followed with victories in the fourth and fifth races.
“I’ve had a lot of good horses and trainers over the years,” Berry said. “That’s how you win.
“I will miss it. It’s all I’ve ever known.”
C.J. McMahon, 20, earned his first career jockey championship in the session just completed at Lone Star. McMahon had 95 victories in 284 starts. McMahon was across the board in 66 percent of his mounts.
McMahon didn’t race Sunday after beginning a suspension Friday for a riding infraction.
Karl Broberg won his second consecutive trainer’s title, and for a third straight season, Danny Keene was the top owner.
Broberg had a winner in War Charger, directed by jockey Lindey Wade, who all won in the eighth race. Wade was second in the jockey standings, one ahead of Berry.
Berry, whose father was a bloodstock dealer in the horse industry, has been riding thoroughbreds since 1980. He said unlike some other jockeys, notably Gary Stevens, his retirement is final.
“I always said I wouldn’t do that,” Berry said before adding, “That’s the plan.”
Berry had cut back his schedule in recent years. As a 50-something he is considered elderly relative to thoroughbred jockeys.
Berry has made more than 28,500 starts since beginning as a 17-year-old in 1979 with 4,516 wins, among them atop Going Ballistic at the $500,000 Super Derby in 2007 at Louisiana Downs.
His total career earnings are approaching $66 million.
At Lone Star, Berry has made 5,511 starts since the track’s inaugural season in 1997 and registered more than $18 million in earnings.
His 1,072 victories are the most all-time in Grand Prairie.
Whether he stays in racing isn’t certain, he said. Berry, a Missouri native, and his wife are about to become empty-nesters and plan to relocate to Louisiana after raising a family in Oklahoma.
The plan for now is to just relax and see what fate has in store for him, Berry said.
“I really started just to make a little money in the summer,” said Berry, who in 2010 rode seven winners, one of only four in history to do that.
“I didn’t plan on doing it forever. I’ve never had a job yet.”