Mountaineer ‘Always Going To Be Home’ For Track’s All-Time Leader Deshawn Parker

Jockey Deshawn Parker has returned to Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort in West Virginia in recent years to ride a horse or two, but the track’s all-time leading jockey was a bit surprised when he was named to ride in eight of nine races on the Aug. 7 West Virginia Derby program.

“My agent told me we had horses going in, but this was a surprise,” said Parker, who is listed to ride Bourbon Thunder in the $500,000 Grade 3 Derby and Bourbon Calling in the $200,000 Grade 3 West Virginia Governor’s Stakes, with mounts in four other stakes and two overnight events.

Parker, who raised his family in East Liverpool, Ohio, not far across the river from Mountaineer, and still has his home there, decided in late 2013 to leave the West Virginia track and branch out to Texas, Indiana and Kentucky. At the height of his Mountaineer success, Parker often would have mounts in all nine or 10 races, five nights a week.

Statistics provided by Brisnet.com show Parker has won an amazing 4,785 races from 28,221 starts at Mountaineer alone, and 5,886 overall. He leads all categories, which include stakes victories and earnings.

Parker, whose mounts have earned $75.7 million, first started riding for trainer John Semer at Mountaineer, and eventually landed in the barn of Dale Baird, the track’s all-time leading trainer, and as of Aug. 4 Thoroughbred racing’s all-time leading trainer with 9,445 wins. That set the stage for multiple years of more than 300 wins for Parker, who in 2011 won 400 races.

With Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen just a handful of wins away from eclipsing the late Baird’s record, Parker reflected on his success with Baird at Mountaineer.

“It’s going to break my heart,” Parker said. “People would say Dale was very hard to approach, but I know that once you got to know Dale, he was great. He would even ask me to go on trips with him to buy horses. I felt honored he wanted me to go with him. And remember, Dale only had one string of horses that would go back and forth between the track and his farm.”

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Parker earlier this year received the prestigious George Woolf Memorial Award, which recognizes riders whose careers and personal character garner esteem for the individual and Thoroughbred racing. He was joined at Santa Anita Park in California by Luis M. Quinones, another Mountaineer veteran and riding champion who won the award in 2020 but whose ceremony was postponed because of COVID-19 restrictions.

“It worked out perfectly,” Parker said of the delay. “We both ended up at Santa Anita together. It was a great weekend.”

And he’s happy to be spending this weekend with family and friends in his own back yard.

“Mountaineer is always going to be home,” Parker said. “I love the track and love the people. When the (purse) money started getting less and less, I made a choice between having to ride so many races and win so many races, or ride less and make more money.

“To this day people ask me how I could have stayed there that long. Well, I love it, and I don’t have a bad thing to say about it. There are great people there, including the fans. Mountaineer boosted my career to where I never thought it could be.”

The post Mountaineer ‘Always Going To Be Home’ For Track’s All-Time Leader Deshawn Parker appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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