Q-Racing Blog: On to the Future

G.R. Carter Jr. is taking on a new challenge.

Q-Racing Journal

G.R. Carter Jr. has a new challenge to conquer.

All-time-everything leading jockey G.R. Carter Jr., 47, has made a lot of friends on his way to all of his accolades.

The Oklahoman’s closest friends may be the other riders in all of the jock’s rooms he’s visited during his non-stop, go-go-go career. The other riders showed their respect after he had his final mount in the $257,650 Evangeline Downs Futurity on December 19. (For you trivia buffs: He finished fifth on The Valiant Prince.)

His fellow riders made him a cake. Isn’t that thoughtful? How sweet and considerate.

There was just one problem with the proceedings. Most of the cake went on Carter’s head and face instead of in his mouth. It was such a fond farewell and certainly a memorable sendoff to the rest of his life.

The cake’s been cleaned off his face and he’s at his Ruidoso home for the holidays. When he returns to Oklahoma, he’ll be taking on the next challenge in his life.

Everything that Carter does is planned and then followed up with an unmatched work ethic. That won’t change now.

Upon his return from Ruidoso and an overwhelming amount of snow, Carter will start at Arrowhead Pipeline Services in Pawhuska and Barnsdall, Oklahoma. Carter and his wife Shaena will join and another husband-wife team — Tom and Lou Ann Smith.

Natural gas lines need to be inspected every 10 years and if there are any anomalies then Arrowhead is one of the companies that perform those repairs. They also provide a variety of other services such as relocation of pipe, new construction and general pipeline maintenance.

“I invested in 2012 when the company first started,” Carter said. “My thinking was that I would ride until the company got going good. I’ve really planned the last year and a half to retire.”

Arrowhead Pipeline Services is doing well and the Carters are jumping on board.

“I plan on just getting out on the jobs and seeing how they do it,” Carter said. “I want to learn the on-site stuff and get to the point where I can oversee a crew.”

As always, there is the Carter work ethic. “Anything you do in life is about dedicating your life to it and hard work,” he said.

That is what got him this far. “It’s hard not to get emotional. It’s (riding) all I’ve done for 30 years, since my childhood. But, I can’t do it forever.

“There have been Sam Thompson, Tad Leggett, Mark Villa and Jacky Martin (who have died or sustained serious injuries). How many bullets can you dodge and still walk away?” Carter said. There have been more than 150 jockeys who have died in track accidents since 1940, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal. Carter is involved in this issue as the vice chairman of the Jockeys’ Guild.

Carter is walking away as the leading all-time rider for three breeds. On American Quarter Horses he won 3,804 races with his mounts earning more than $70 million. On American Paint Horses he won 346 races and more than $3.5 million in earnings. On Appaloosas he won 405 races and more than $3.2 million in earnings.

“It’s going to be hard next summer when the Rainbow (Futurity and Derby) and the All American (Futurity and Derby) are run,” Carter admitted. “If Mike (Joiner) called about riding First Valiant Sign or Clint (Crawford) called about Jess Good Candy, I’d have to think about it.”

Has he performed his final back flip?

*A note from Wrangler Ace Martha Claussen:

Almanza Off to a Swift Start at Hialeah: Trainer Rolando Almanza wasted no time in getting off to a sensational start in the 2015-2016 live Quarter Horse racing season at Hialeah Park.

In the first four days of the meet, he won six races, including two stakes and saddled the fastest qualifier for two upcoming finals. The conditioner of multiple graded stakes winner Daytona B, has picked up new owners and currently has 25 horses stabled at Hialeah.

"I have twice as many horses here this year," explained Almanza. "We started out on a high note and are really happy to be here."
 
His stars include Gregorio Garcia Garza's Daytona B, who won the $25,000 Bienvenido de Nuevo Stakes and will defend his title in the $100,000 Sam Abbey Invitational on February 28;  Moonin The Eagle, also owned by Garza, the fastest qualifier for the $204,310 Hialeah Maturity; Elite Oilfield Services' JMF Shazoomer, the upset winner in the $27,250 Orange Blossom Stakes and Jaime Flores' Shez A Hot Valentine, who posted the fastest qualifying time for the $390,935 Hialeah Derby.
"I have been here the past five years and without a doubt, this is the toughest competition ever," states Almanza.  "In the past, the stakes might have drawn one superstar; now each stakes and even the lower level races have full fields with good horses shipped from all over the country."

Almanza has respect for the competition he will face as the Hialeah meet continues, and also the support of racing fans, who helped to set two handle records already this meet.

"It's pretty exciting," he adds. "People are betting every time we run and you can't beat the weather."

Snow, Cold, Go Away: Conversely, Mother Nature has not been kind to many regions in the country, and hit the El Paso/ Sunland Park, New Mexico, region especially hard this week.   Due to the extent of the snow and severe winter conditions, Sunland Park was forced to cancel its Sunday and Tuesday race cards.

Dustin A. Dix, Sunland's Director of Racing Operations, gave an update about the unfortunate timing of the winter storm.

"For the safety of everyone involved cancelling on Sunday was the proper decision," said Dix.  "We checked with the AQHA (Trey Buck and Jen Perkins) and they said that the two Championship races will count for year-end honors"
 
According to Dix, the snowstorm was one of the worst storms seen here in the last thirty years.  Track officials cited the safety of the equines, humans, and the patrons trying to get to the track, that canceling was the correct decision. 
 
"It is tough for the horsemen, but we didn’t receive any negative feedback," added Dix.  "We rescheduled the Quarter Horse stakes for next Sunday, January 3 and the other races will be written back as extras and the horses enter will receive a “super” date so they won’t be excluded." 

Wrangler Racing Aces in December: Visit the Q-Racing Aces page on Facebook or follow them @HorseRacingAces on Twitter for timely updates on Quarter Horse racing across North America. The Wrangler Racing Aces are following the horses, jockeys, trainers and milestones at Los Alamitos, Sunland Park, Hialeah Park and more.