Thirteen years later, on New Year’s Eve 2018, he would win his 2,000th race in Phoenix at Turf Paradise Race Course.
“Gratitude is what I feel,” said Eikleberry, 29, after winning Monday’s early daily double to notch 1,999 wins with first race winner My Expression ($2.60) and then one race later his 2,000th victory with Dust Roller ($10.20). “Gratitude to all those people and horses who helped me reach this plateau.”
Not content to dwell on his accomplishment, Eikleberry then completed the hat trick by winning the third race with Ez Ez Ez ($3.20) for win number 2,001. All three consecutive wins coming for his Dad, trainer Kevin Eikleberry, a third generation horseman, who annually ranks among the Top 10 trainers at Turf Paradise.
Ry, born and raised in Cave Creek, a small town about 18 miles north of Turf Paradise, was destined to be a jockey before even being given a leg up to the saddle.
“My Dad put me on my first horse when I was two years old,” said Ry. “By the time I was three, I was getting on them by myself.”
Ry distinguished himself early in his career by capturing three consecutive Leading Rider titles from 2008-2011 at Turf Paradise. Then it was on to the New Mexico circuit of tracks, where he now primarily plies his trade, with an occasional visit to Canterbury Park in Minnesota during the summer.
Ry maintains a vegetarian diet which keeps him lean and weight right for riding assignments. But at 5’10” in height, he is tall for a jockey.
“So far so good,” said Ry. “I’d like to do this for another 10 years. That’s my goal.”
Ry’s final mount of the day in the $53,972 ATBA Fall Sales Stakes was aboard his Dad’s-trained Fortified Effort who would tire to finish second to Yo Y Me ridden by Scott Stevens. The winner is also trained by Kevin Eikleberry, giving the trainer half of the victories on the eight-race card.