05/13/2011 2:56PM

Lone Star: Pettinger settling into new role as jockey agent


Don Pettinger is moving down a new career path. But it’s not that far removed from the more than 30-year riding career he retired from last year. Pettinger, in the last two weeks, has begun working as a jockey agent at Lone Star Park.

“So, I’m back to being a bug boy, I guess,” he said Friday.

Pettinger, 49, represents Rita Helton and apprentice Ronald Richard, who broke his jaw in a spill May 7 but is expected to be back riding by next month. Pettinger rode his final race at Lone Star Park last May, in large part because of a nagging knee injury.

For years, he was one of the premier riders between Arlington, Oaklawn, and Remington Park, and compiled a career record 3,388 wins from 21,161 starts. His mounts earned more than $45 million, chief among them Grade 1 winners Clever Trevor and See How She Runs.

Pettinger has not been on the job long as an agent, but said one aspect he has enjoyed is working with the 17-year-old Richard, who is from Louisiana. Pettinger said as a young rider he enjoyed learning from older jockeys and he hopes he can be of the same service to Richard.

“The young man looks like he has some talent, and I think possibly I could help with him, his riding,” Pettinger said. “We might be a good mix that way. He seems receptive to that, so it makes you feel like you’re accomplishing something.

“You always hope you can get young riders to take advantage of the older riders that they can learn from. That was instrumental in my upbringing of learning.”

Pettinger said during his early years he learned many race-riding lessons from his brother, retired jockey David Pettinger, as well as Jimmy Powell, Kenny Jones, Fred Ecoffey, and Tommy Greer.

“They could ride,” Pettinger said. “They taught you to start thinking, because they could make you look stupid and you didn’t realize it at the time. Quality riders like that, they might teach you and you didn’t realize it. You had to be knowledgeable enough to know what the heck they had just done to you.”

Pettinger is a native of Holly, Colo. He followed his brother into racing and spent his high school years working on a farm for trainer James E. Jones. He soon formed a powerful partnership with trainers Don Von Hemel and his son, Donnie Von Hemel.

“We had little bitty Gateway Downs in Holly, Colo.,” Pettinger said, “and back then Don Von had babies there and would break them in the winter time. He would get horses ready for Fonner Park in the spring. My brother got involved, and that’s how the relationship started, because of being in Holly.”

Don Pettinger’s first significant mount for longtime patron Donnie Von Hemel was Explosive Girl, a winner of 15 of 40 starts and $467,592 in the 1980s. Pettinger also was the regular rider on the Von Hemel-trained millionaires Clever Trevor, Mr Ross, and Bien Nicole.

Pettinger won some of his 268 career stakes aboard See How She Runs, Bedanken, Belle of Cozzene, and Chindi. He also won a number of titles, among them championships at Turf Paradise, Ak-Sar-Ben, and Remington. Pettinger will return to Remington to work as an agent when the Lone Star meet ends July 10.

Quinonez wins 3,000th race

Jockey Luis Quinonez won the 3,000th Thoroughbred race of his career Thursday night at Lone Star, when he guided Hit It Hard home by 8 3/4 lengths in the seventh race.

“It is a lot of wins,” Quinonez said of the milestone. “I’ve been blessed to win that many.”

Quinonez guided Hit It Hard ($5.60) to the front soon after the start of the $25,000 maiden-claiming race. He was aboard for trainer Ralph Irwin, a longtime patron for whom Quinonez has ridden stakes winners Tortuga Flats and Tortuga Straits.

Quinonez, 44, scored his first career win May 10, 1989, at Canterbury. He won five consecutive titles at the track between 1995 and 1999. Quinonez also has won titles at Oaklawn and Remington.

◗ Bobby Dan Crenshaw, a New Mexico-based trainer and former professional football player for the Philadelphia Eagles, died Wednesday after a battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 67. Services are Sunday in White Oaks, N.M.

◗ An improving Mr. Shorty will seek his third straight win Sunday, when he steps up from the $15,000 claiming ranks for a first-level allowance sprint at Louisiana Downs.