“Hats Off to the Horses” Welcomes Shelby and Chris Landeros!

“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!

littlemike-equisportphotos-3crop-web-med We are delighted this season to have jockey Chris Landeros and his wife Shelby joining our “Hats Off” team to model hats for us.

Shelby recently modeled the “Little Mike” chapeau during a very special photo session for the fundraiser at Old Friends in KY.

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Photo of Shelby Landeros by EquiSport Photos

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.

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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.

littlemike-laurabattles-8-framed-web-medShelby: It was good! He was a little too feisty for me so we had to take photos on the other side of the fence.

littlemike-equisportphotos-1crop-web-medSally: Was this your first visit to Old Friends, and did you get a chance to meet any of the other retired racehorses while you were there?

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.

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Shelby and Chris with Shelby’s dad Ian Wilkes, her mom Tracey and her brother Brodie

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.

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Chris with his brother Stephen, and dad Manuel

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.

shelby-chris-landeros-2Sally: Was there anyone in particular who inspired or helped you along the way in your career?

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.

shelby-chris-landeros-5-web-medSally: 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.

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Chris and Shelby with 2015 Triple Crown winner, American Pharoah.

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.

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Chris and a tiny fan he let wear his helmet after a stakes win on the filly Streamline

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.

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Wedding photo by Skip Dickstein

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.

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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!

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Chris and Shelby’s wedding. Photo by Skip Dickstein

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.

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Chris winning on War Stroll trained by Shelby’s dad, Ian Wilkes. Photo courtesy of Coady Photography.

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.

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Shelby and Chris Landeros at Breeders’ Cup 2015 at Keeneland.

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.

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Old Friends photo courtesy of EquiSport Photos

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!

Sally

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.

To learn more about Little Mike, the horse, please visit the Little Mike webpage. For more information about the “Little Mike” chapeau please visit the Little Mike hat webpage.

Note about Photography: All images that are shown here without credits have been provided with permission from the Landeros family.

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“Hats Off to the Horses” Welcomes Jon, Krystal and Aubrey Court!

“Hats Off to the Horses” has kicked off the New Year in style with its first hat up for bid that honors Pennsylvania-bred 1996 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner, Alphabet Soup!

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Jon, Krystal and Aubrey Court with Alphabet Soup at Old Friends
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The “Alphabet Soup” Chapeau

We’re celebrating our eighth consecutive year of “Hats Off to the Horses: The Road to the Derby”, an annual Derby hat fundraiser that benefits the retired racehorses of Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement in KY, and and we are delighted this season to have jockey Jon Court, his wife Krystal and their daughter Aubrey joining our “Hats Off” team to model hats for us!

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Jon and Krystal Court

This month Krystal modeled the spectacular “Alphabet Soup” chapeau that you can read about by visiting the Alphabet Soup hat webpage.

Krystal’s husband, Jon, is one of horse racing’s leading riders.

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Jon Court with 2011 Derby mount, Archarcharch

Born in Gainesville, Florida, November 23, 1960, Jon began his riding career in 1980 at Centennial Park in Colorado and had his first win at the age of 19 aboard a horse named Nevada’s Hope. After a dozen years riding in Louisiana, Jon moved on to the Indiana and Kentucky racing circuits and was dominant at Hoosier Park between 1996 to 1998 with leading rider honors at Oaklawn in 2000. Jon’s achievements have included 2 Lone Star Derby victories, a 2003 Japan Cup Dirt win aboard Fleetstreet Dancer, back-to-back Arkansas Derby wins with Line of David and Archarcharch, a feature in the first season of Animal Plant’s reality documentary, Jockeys, and a Derby mount in the 2011 Run for the Roses riding Archarcharch for his father-in-law, Jinks Fires.

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Jon Court with his 2011 Kentucky Derby mount, Archarcharch, and trainer/father-in-law, Jinks Fires

Court has also served as secretary of the Jockeys’ Guild twice and earned the 2007 George Woolf Award. On September 17, 2016 Jon suffered a rib and vertebrae injury at Churchill Downs when he was just 6 wins short of 4,000 career wins. Yet he was back in the saddle by October and on December 3rd at the age of 56 claimed his 4,000th win at Turfway Park aboard the 3-year-old Florida-bred filly, City Without Pity.

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Photo by Coady Photography

Jon and Krystal were married in Arkansas and live in Shelbyville, Kentucky with their family. Krystal, the daughter of Oaklawn-based trainer Jinks Fires, has spent her entire life around horses and the race track.

Jon and Krystal’s 13-year-old daughter Aubrey joined us for the photo shoot, modeling a custom made hair ornament created to match the “Alphabet Soup” chapeau.

I recently got the chance to interview all three of them following their photo shoot at Old Friends.

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Jon, Krystal and Aubrey, welcome to my Hats and Horses blog!

We are thrilled to have you join our “Hats Off” team for our 8th straight year with the “Hats Off to the Horses” Derby hat auction fundraiser for the retired racehorses of Old Friends. I’m so glad I got the chance to catch up with you and ask you a few questions for this Q&A!

Sally: Jon and Krystal, for those who are meeting you two here for the first time, where were each of you born and where did you grow up?

Jon: I was born in Gainesville, FL, and I grew up on a farm in Seminole County, FL.

Krystal: I was born in Memphis, TN, because that was the closest hospital to Rivervale, Arkansas where my family lives.

Sally: For each of you, what is your earliest memory of a horse?

Jon: I watched a race, most likely the Kentucky Derby, when I was probably 3 or 4 years old on television and was hooked.

Krystal: My family has been in the racing business all my life, so I was on a horse as soon as I could sit up and hold on.

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Krystal Court and Commanding Arch

Sally: Did you both ride when you were little?

Jon: I started at 10 to ride by myself without an adult’s help.

Krystal: I always rode my Dad’s pony around the barn and would ride around my Grandparent’s farm in the summer.

Sally: Jon, when did you first realize that you wanted to be a jockey?

Jon: I always said I would be a jockey from an early age after watching a horse race.

Sally: Was there anyone who especially inspired or helped you along the way?

Jon: I had a variety of people who inspired me along the way.

Sally: I understand that you did a lot of your early riding in Louisiana. Later,  you won the Arkansas Derby with Line of David and then Archarcharch, and then got your first Derby mount in 2011 aboard Archarcharch.

Jon: I started riding in 1980 at Centennial race track in Littleton, Colorado, then went on to Louisiana.

Sally: You have ridden some incredibly talented racehorses to victory over the years. Do you have any special favorites?

Jon: Archarcharch, Wise Dan, Leroidesanimaux, and Fleetstreet Dancer.

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Jon Court winning the 2011 Arkansas Derby with Archarcharch

Sally: Have there been any races in particular that were especially memorable?

Jon: The Japan Cup Dirt in 2003 on Fleetstreet Dancer for the Leathermans was a memorable experience.

Sally: What goals or dreams do you have as a jockey for the future?

Jon: Jockeys always chase the Derby dream and the Triple Crown series along with the Breeders’ Cup and so on.

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Jon Court shown exercising 2011 Derby mount, Archarcharch

Sally: Is training racehorses something you could ever imagine yourself doing?

Jon: Yes, I could see myself training one day.

Sally: Being a jockey means early mornings and a lot of travel. What would be the perfect day to you?

Jon: Sleeping in and having breakfast with my girls.

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Jon Court with daughter, Aubrey

Sally: Krystal, you’ve had a long history with horses as well. Your dad, Jinks Fires, is an accomplished 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?

Krystal: Not really, I have walked a lot of horses for him, after they came back from the track.

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Krystal Court’s Dad, trainer Jinks Fires, at Churchill Downs on Derby Day 2016 racing one of his horses

Sally: I read somewhere that you worked as a concierge in the suites for Churchill Downs; do you still work there?

Krystal: I work as the Jockey Club Suites Concierge when Churchill Downs is racing.

Sally: Krystal, you and Jon sound super busy with careers and family, what is your idea of the perfect day?

Krystal: My ideal of a perfect day is any day that I get to laugh and spend time with my family.

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Jinks Fires with Krystal’s daughter, Aubrey, and niece, Josey

Sally: You two were married in Hot Springs, Arkansas. What year was that?

Krystal: 1998

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Jon and Krystal Court at at a friend’s wedding reception in 2015

Sally: How did the two of you meet?

Krystal: At my father’s barn at Oaklawn Park, while I was walking a horse for my dad, in 1996.

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Jon and Krystal Court at the 2013 Breeders’ Cup

Sally: Where are you living now?

J&K: Shelbyville, Kentucky.

Sally: How many kids do you have besides Aubrey who looked so lovely modeling with you at Old Friends?

Krystal: Jon has 3 older children and my niece lives with us now. Josey is 14, so her and Aubrey are more like sisters then cousins.

courts-aubreyjoseyonbucky2Sally: Do you own any horses? Do you have other pets?

J&K: We have owned a couple of race horses, but none now. We have a sweet, female miniature Schnauzer named Pepper.

Sally: Our first hat up on the block for the January auction is the “Alphabet Soup” chapeau which is one of the hats that you modeled at Old Friends. Had either of you ever met Alphabet Soup before the photo shoot? How did the photo shoot go?… It looked like a lot of fun!

Jon: Never met Alphabet Soup. However, I was aware of him and was thoroughly impressed with him after the photo shoot.

alphabetsoup-rickcapone-1-framed-medSally: Aubrey, I understand that the October 17th photo shoot date was your 13th birthday as well. What did you think of Alphabet Soup?

Aubrey: It was really fun to do the photo shoot on my birthday and Alphabet Soup is a beautiful horse.

Sally: Did you get a chance to meet Little Silver Charm or any of the other horses while you were there at Dream Chase farm?

Aubrey: Unfortunately, not.

Sally: Do you ride?

Aubrey: Yes, almost every chance I get, but not racehorses.

Sally: How do you like being a hat model?

Aubrey: I loved it!

alphabetsoup-equisportphotos-3-crop-blogSally: You all look GREAT in hats! Do you think of yourselves as “hat people”? Where is your favorite place to wear a hat (other than on a horse wearing a racing helmet)?

Jon: I occasionally wear a hat, more during the winter.

Krystal: I love wearing hats, especially to big races, during the colder months and to protect my face in the summer.

Aubrey: I consider myself a hat person most times, and my favorite place to wear a hat is in public!

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Krystal and Aubrey, 2016 Derby

Sally: I am sure that people are going to be inspired by your support of Old Friends. Why do you think it’s 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?

Jon and Krystal: These beautiful equine athletes have given there all for us and deserve a wonderful retirement. We have found that if people know there is a need, they will help as much as possible. So you only need to spread the word and people’s natural generosity will do the rest. We believe they do an excellent job at Old Friends and we really appreciate all their efforts.

Sally: Krystal, Jon and Aubrey, thanks again for helping us with our Eighth Annual “Hats Off to the Horses” auction series with the “Alphabet Soup” chapeau. We are really fortunate to have you on board this year as part of our “Hats Off” team!

alphabetsoup-equisportphotos-2crop-web-medAnd to my readers, please enjoy this “behind-the-scenes” video from the “Alphabet Soup” photo shoot with Jon, Krystal and Aubrey Court at Old Friends, a special treat from our friends Matt and Wendy Wooley of EquiSport Photos!

Happy New Year everybody!

Sally

About the auction:

The “Alphabet Soup” auction hat is currently up for bid on EBay. Bidding ends Wednesday, January 11th at 8 PM EST.

To learn more about Alphabet Soup, the horse, please visit the Alphabet Soup webpage. For more information about the “Alphabet Soup” Chapeau please visit the Alphabet Soup hat webpage.

Note about Photography: All images that are shown here without credits have been provided with permission from the Court family.

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