“Hats Off to the Horses”, the annual Derby hat fundraiser that benefits the retired racehorses of Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement in KY has kicked off Season 8 with its second hat up for bid to honor Florida bred 2012 Breeders’ Cup Turf and Arlington Million winner, Little Mike!
Shelby recently modeled the “Little Mike” chapeau during a very special photo session for the fundraiser at Old Friends in KY.
Shelby’s husband, Chris Landeros, was born July 12, 1988. The son of CA trainer, Manuel Landeros, Chris is one of horse racing’s up and coming riders who began his riding career at Turf Paradise in Arizona. In 2015 Chris won the Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) and Aristides (G3), both aboard Alsvid. In 2016 he had a North American career earning of over $24.5 million and 1,232 wins through September 29th.
Shelby Landeros is the daughter of winning Kentucky based trainer, Ian Wilkes who trained Fort Larned in the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Classic.
I recently got the chance to interview Shelby and Chris following their photo shoot at Old Friends for the “Little Mike” chapeau.
Sally: Shelby and Chris, our next hat up on the block for the February auction is the “Little Mike” chapeau which was one of the hats that you modeled at Old Friends. Had either of you ever met Little Mike before?
Chris: No I hadn’t met him before the photo shoot.
Shelby: I had never met him, but I was at Santa Anita the year he won the Breeders’ Cup Turf. It was the same year my dad’s horse Fort Larned won the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Sally: How did the photo shoot go?
Chris: Great! I loved him. I thought he looked great. He was a lot of fun to be around.
Shelby: I had taken Chris one time before, and that was my third trip to Old Friends. We also met Danthebluegrassman.
Sally: Shelby and Chris, for those who are meeting you two here for the first time, where were each of you born and where did you grow up?
Chris: I was born in San Mateo, CA and grew up on the backside of Bay Meadows and Golden Gate Fields. I eventually moved to Arizona and started riding at Turf Paradise.
Shelby: I was born in Arlington Heights, IL but grew up for the most part in Louisville, KY. My parents are from Australia so we moved back there from 1990-1993 and then came back to the States.
Sally: For each of you, what is your earliest memory of a horse?
Chris: I used to ride the ponies in the morning at the track with my dad.
Shelby: I’m not sure it’s my earliest memory, but I remember riding to and from the track in the mornings with my mom and dad on our old stable pony, Yukoner.
Sally: Did you both ride when you were little?
Chris: I rode at my mom’s ranch. She used to rehab racehorses.
Shelby: I didn’t ride seriously, but my best friend rode all the time and we would go out for trail rides. That’s the extent of my riding.
Sally: Chris, I read that you grew up in San Mateo, CA and that your father Manuel Landeros, trained horses in CA, and also that your grandparents Frank and Lynn Mitchell owned racehorses.
Sally: It sounds like horse racing runs in your blood. When did you first realize that you wanted to be a jockey?
Chris: I knew I wanted to be a jockey at a very young age. I thought it was the coolest job.
Chris: Garret Gomez. He was my idol and a very close friend. I still watch YouTube videos of his races to learn from him.
Sally: Given your family’s history, can you ever imagine training racehorses yourself?
Chris: Not right now, but you never know what the future holds. Right now I’m only worried about riding.
Sally: I understand that you started riding at Turf Paradise (AZ) when you were just 17 and traveled between Arizona and California for a number of years until you started racing in Texas and Oklahoma. Were there any races in particular that were especially memorable to you?
Chris: Winning my first Grade III race, the John B. Connally Turf Cup at Sam Houston.
Sally: What goals or dreams do you have for the future?
Chris: I want to win a Breeders’ Cup race, and everyone’s dream is the Kentucky Derby.
Sally: Chris, you have ridden some incredibly talented racehorses to victory over the years. Do you have any favorites?
Chris: There’s been many special ones, but Alsvid is one that stands out.
Sally: Being a jockey means early mornings and a lot of travel; what would be the perfect day for you?
Chris: My perfect day would be golfing, some blackjack, and then dinner with my wife.
Sally: Shelby, you’ve had a long history with horses as well. Your dad, Ian Wilkes, is a trainer and it sounds like you’ve spent pretty much your whole life around horses and the track. Were you ever involved in your dad’s training work?
Shelby: I hot walked for him for a little bit, but that’s about it.
Sally: Do you own any horses?
Shelby: No, not yet 🙂
Sally: Shelby, do you ride now?
Shelby: Not really. I’m the only one in the family who doesn’t ride.
Sally: Do you and Chris have any pets?
Shelby: We have a zoo! We have an English bulldog, a Great Dane, and two cats.
Sally: I know you and Chris are very busy; what does the perfect day look like to you?
Shelby: I think my perfect day would just be relaxing at home with Chris.
Sally: Do you have any special dreams for the future, where you’d like to live, etc?
Shelby: I’d love to start a family soon! I like Louisville so I hope we can stay here for awhile.
Sally: Shelby and Chris, congratulations on your recent wedding celebration!
Sally: How did the two of you meet?
Chris: I rode a couple times for her dad in Indiana and decided to message her on Facebook.
Shelby: We met in person a few months later, and the rest is history!
Sally: I understand you are living in Kentucky now. Do you both travel when Chris has racing meets, and how does life in the Bluegrass State compare to California?
Shelby: We’re mainly in Kentucky, but I move to Arkansas with him in the winters. Sometimes if he travels for a big race I’ll go out of town.
Chris: They’re two different places. I prefer the Bluegrass State. I hope to raise my family here one day.
Sally: Shelby and Chris, after seeing Matt’s images from the big photo shoot at Old Friends, I have to tell you that you both look GREAT in hats!
Are you “hat people”?
Chris: I wear mostly baseball caps. Nothing fancy.
Shelby: I love fascinators! They’re easier to wear in big crowds.
Sally: If so, where is your favorite place to wear a hat?
Shelby: Derby! 🙂
Sally: Shelby and Chris, people are going to be inspired by your support of Old Friends.
Sally: Why do you think it is important for us to support these retired Thoroughbred athletes, and do you have any suggestions for how people can get involved and participate in helping the retired racehorses?
Chris: For me as a jockey I appreciate each and every one of them. If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be doing what I love.
Shelby: Obviously not everyone is in a position to take in a retired racehorse so the best way to get involved is to donate, if you’re able to, to organizations that help retired thoroughbreds. Or volunteer if possible helping care for the horses.
Sally: Shelby and Chris, thanks again for helping us with our Eighth Annual “Hats Off to the Horses” auction series with the “Little Mike” chapeau. We are really fortunate to have you on board this year as part of our “Hats Off” team!
And to my readers, please enjoy this behind-the-scenes video from the “Little Mike” photo shoot with Chris and Shelby at Old Friends, a special treat from our friends Matt and Wendy Wooley of EquiSport Photos!
And thank you for visiting us today at Hats and Horses!
About the “Little Mike” Hat Auction:
The “Little Mike” auction hat is currently up for bid on EBay. Bidding ends Saturday, February 11th at 8 PM EST.
Note about Photography: All images that are shown here without credits have been provided with permission from the Landeros family.