By Kristin Bechthold
Ry Eikleberry was Canterbury Park’s leading jockey for 2014 with 327 starts and 64 wins, giving him a total of $1,184,650 in earnings. Originally from Phoenix, Arizona, Eikleberry rides at Zia Park and Sunland Park in New Mexico in the winter and at Canterbury Park in the summer.
Eikleberry’s passion for horse racing is unmistakable. When asked what he would do if he could have a year off with pay, he said, “I’d probably just keep riding. I love it.” He also said that his favorite part of racing is the adrenaline rush and of course, winning races.
To prepare for a race, Eikleberry loses a few pounds per day and also stretches. However, he said the most important part of preparing for a race is to handicap. “I handicap hard before the race just to make sure I know what’s going into the race and where I should be,” he said.
Eikleberry recalled one of his “craziest” races to be one where his rein snapped at the 3/8 pole. “I had to kind of do a rodeo catch to get my horse pulled up,” he said. “The horse bolted and I came off one side and got back on, but I got him pulled up.”
For an accomplished jockey, Eikleberry lacks the amount of broken bones that one may expect. Although he’s had approximately a dozen or so “serious wrecks,” as he calls them, he has never broken a bone. However, he has suffered multiple concussions and has spent the night in the hospital on more than one occasion.
Other than horses and racing, it is clear that Eikleberry’s life revolves around his family, which includes his wife Jilique and one and half year old daughter, Revy. They currently reside at Jilique’s parents’ house in Jordan, Minnesota for the length of the meet at Canterbury.
Although Eikleberry describes himself as a “Plain Jane,” his interests travel beyond just racing. Some of his hobbies include hunting small game and fishing. One of his dreams is to retire with his wife to a cabin in “the middle of nowhere,” and learn how to self-sustain.