As he wraps up his first year in Kentucky, Chris Landeros is feeling very good about taking the chance that brought him to the Bluegrass State last spring.
It took the 26-year-old Landeros, who already had 1,000 wins to his credit when he arrived in Kentucky in the spring, some time to make his presence known. But he gained momentum and confidence throughout the year, and he is much more comfortable now than when he arrived in the Bluegrass State as a fresh new face following a winter of riding at New Orleans’ Fair Grounds.
“It’s been a great year,” Landeros said. “I wish I had come here earlier.”
Landeros entered the final day of Churchill Downs’ Fall Meet with seven victories that included a stakes win aboard Courtlandt Farm’s Strike Charmer in the $100,000-added Cardinal Handicap (GIII).
He has enjoyed solid success at all three Churchill Downs racing meets and other Kentucky tracks, and his decision to relocate from Texas has already resulted in his first ride in the Breeders’ Cup World Championships.
Landeros guided the 2-year-old Lawn Ranger to win Keeneland’s Dixiana Bourbon (GIII) for trainer Kenny McPeek, a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event that earned that colt and Landeros a run in the Juvenile Turf (GI) at Santa Anita. Lawn Ranger and Landeros finished sixth to the victorious Hootenanny in his Breeders’ Cup debut.
Another highlight of his inaugural season in Kentucky was a victory aboard Dimension in the $200,000 Kentucky Downs Turf Dash.
Landeros came to Kentucky after a run as a leading rider at Lone Star Park in Texas and earlier success at Arizona’s Turf Paradise. Despite big numbers at those tracks, he was patient in assessing a possible move to Kentucky, although he was frequently encouraged to consider that step.
“I had opportunities, but I just never took them,” Landeros said. “I felt that I needed to polish myself up a little bit more. Being leading leader rider in Texas and riding for trainers like Bret Calhoun and Steve Asmussen, it led me up to a place like this.
“A year ago in November, I said I was going to Kentucky this spring. No matter what happens at Fair Grounds, I’m going to Kentucky.”
He received early support on his new racing circuit from trainer David Carroll, and he was able to repay the favor this month by riding the Carroll-trained Strike Charmer to her victory in the Cardinal. He also has strong praise for McPeek and trainer Ian Wilkes.
“He’s a tremendous guy to ride for and I don’t know if I could have done it without him,” Landeros said of McPeek. “Ian Wilkes has helped me out a lot, and he helps me on-the-ground, as well. He helps me to be humble and be professional.”
With the conclusion of the Fall Meet at Churchill Downs, Landeros will head back to the Fair Grounds for the winter, and also expects to ride horses for McPeek, who will be based at Oaklawn Park and Sam Houston Park in Texas. But he will be back in Kentucky next spring and plans to build a home in the Louisville area.
Now that he’s finally here, Chris Landeros plans to be a part of racing at Churchill Downs and the state of Kentucky for a good while.
“It’s a classy place here,” Landerous said. “I don’t know where else you would want to be. Like I was saying, I wish I had come here earlier.”
Source: Churchill Downs Communications