Jockey Chris Landeros will be off to a busy start at his second straight Championship Meet at Gulfstream Park, with mounts in seven of Saturday's 11 races including five of the nine Claiming Crown stakes as he seeks to improve on his 2017-18 numbers.
In his first full winter at Gulfstream, riding primarily for his father-in-law, trainer Ian Wilkes, Landeros had seven wins from 122 mounts with 19 seconds and 12 thirds and purse earnings of $586,590 last season.
After leaving South Florida, Landeros finished in the top 10 in wins in four of the five Kentucky meets, most recently going 10-for-77 at Churchill Downs' fall stand which ended Nov. 25.
“I'm excited, that's for sure. It'll be nice to get out of the cold. It's a fun meet. You've got to understand what you're getting yourself into before you go. You have to prepare yourself mentally. It's a tough meet. There's a lot of riders, good riders, a lot of talent,” Landeros said. “Believe me, I love to do very well and you never know what can happen. You can get off to a hot start and things snowball into something big. It was actually even tougher than I thought when I went last year.”
Landeros married Wilkes' daughter, Shelby, in May 2016 and their son, Beckham, was born in September 2017. Wilkes has wintered at Palm Meadows, Gulfstream's satellite training facility in Palm Beach County, for years, and the family dynamic was an important factor in Landeros' decision to ride at Gulfstream.
“The winters are tough everywhere, so for me with my family I was at a point where I would like my son to grow up in some nice warm weather with his grandmother and grandfather,” Landeros said, “and just be happy and enjoy it and be prepared for the spring because when I get back home, there is no break. I treat it like a working vacation, but I think I'm going to do some good.”
Going back to Keeneland's October meet, new agent Kevin Meyocks was busy lining up rides for Landeros, a 30-year-old California native who has won nearly 1,400 races and more than $36 million in purses since 2006.
Landeros also has the call on Nominal Dollars in the $110,000 Rapid Transit, Whyruawesome in the $110,000 Express and Misschief Maas in the $110,000 Glass Slipper, all for trainer Jorge Navarro; Rocket Heat for trainer Michael Tannuzzo in the $110,000 Canterbury and Souperfast for trainer Mike Maker in the $125,000 Emerald.
“I was happy to see that. Of course you want to ride some races right off the bat, but there's so many riders you don't know what to expect,” Landeros said. “I know Kevin is doing his work … so hat's off to him. I just have to get my feet on the ground. I'm looking forward to it. I think it's going to be a good meet.”
Landeros' other two mounts Saturday come for Wilkes, 2-year-old Kitten's Joy filly Solar Kitten in the opener and 2-year-old More Than Ready colt Where's Oliver in a pair of 7 ½- furlong maiden special weights.
“Ian is a lot of different people all in one. I rode for Ian before I even married his daughter,” Landeros said. “One thing I will say we're very good at is we never mix the two. We never ever bring work home. Of course you have disagreements but there has never, ever been any problems and this is my fifth year riding for him. Ian is my father-in-law, my boss, one of my best friends, a mentor, just a very, very good person. I'm very blessed to have him on my side.”
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