Jockey Agent Billy Johnson Passes: Teamed With Leading Riders Deshawn Parker, Luis Quinones

Jockey agent Billy Johnson died Thursday in East Liverpool, Ohio, just across the Ohio River from West Virginia’s Mountaineer Park, where he helped Deshawn Parker become the No. 1 rider in the country by wins in 2010 and ’11.

Johnson, who was in his late 50s, had been plagued with health issues in recent months.

“It’s a sad day. He is family to me,” said Parker, who said he and Johnson worked together for about 20 years, parting ways in 2017 when Parker moved his tack to Indiana. “He helped raise my kids. We’d spend Thanksgiving and Christmas together and hung out all the time.”

Parker recalls growing up in Cleveland and when he was 14 or 15 years old playing on the same softball team with his father, state steward Daryl Parker, and the Johnson brothers, Billy and Thoroughbred trainer Gary.

“I’ve known him for so long,” he said.

Parker said Johnson helped him win more than 30 riding titles  and become the all-time leading rider at Mountaineer Park and they earned another title together at Sam Houston in 2015 after testing the waters in Texas.

Billy Johnson with Deshawn Parker

Johnson worked on the backstretch and eventually the racing office at Ohio racetracks. Fellow agent Jimmy McNerny worked alongside Johnson in the Beulah Park racing office and said Johnson left to become an agent in the mid-to-late ’90s. McNerny followed him a couple of years later and now is agent for Parker, who won the 2020 Indiana Grand riding title.

“He’s one of the best agents I’ve known,” said McNerny.

Parker led all North American riders with 377 wins in 2010 and 400 in 2011. After Parker left for Indiana, Johnson teamed up with Luis Quinones to win the 2018 and ’19 Mountaineer titles and finish third and second by North American wins in those respective years.

Quinones was voted Santa Anita’s George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award by his fellow riders in February 2020. “He was a big influence in helping Quinones getting that award,” McNerny said. ”Most of the riders who vote don’t know anything about Mountaineer or Mahoning Valley, where Quinones rode. Billy really campaigned for him.”

When Quinones was sidelined by injury earlier this year, Johnson brought Luis Colon to the West Virginia track. Colon and Johnson’s other rider, Charle Oliveros, are currently 1-2 in the standings.

“He did a great job,” Parker said. “And everybody liked Billy. He’s just one of those guys. Never a bad word about him. Even if he spun the trainers, he would smooth it out so they weren’t upset with him. He tried hard for everybody.”

Services are pending. Nixon Funeral Home of Newell, W. Va., is handling arrangements.

The post Jockey Agent Billy Johnson Passes: Teamed With Leading Riders Deshawn Parker, Luis Quinones appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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