Landeros' Giant Payday

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6:03 pm EDT

Welcome to the World Beckham Wilkes Landeros

Chris Landeros actually thought about trying to ride Saturday at Kentucky Downs. But it was 1:00 this afternoon in Louisville when Shelby Landeros had their first child, a boy named Beckham Wilkes Landeros.

He was born four weeks early but in fine health. It took the jockey about two seconds to realize he couldn’t have left anyway, calling the experience the best day of his life.

“It’s actually more than I thought,” Landeros said a few hours later by phone. “Yeah, it was special. Just holding him. It’s pretty incredible.”

But duty calls. Landeros said he plans to ride Sunday, when he’s named to ride four mounts for his father in law, trainer Ian Wilkes, including Canterbury’s Mystic Lake Derby winner Giant Payday in the Exacta Systems Dueling Grounds Derby.

“I was pushing for today as long as I could, but it didn’t work out,” he said. “… I was ready to go at any time. Kevin Kerstein (a Churchill Downs publicist) was going to help me drive. He knew I’d been up all night. We had it all planned. But you can’t just see the baby born and just leave. This is a once a lifetime deal, and I took full advantage and got to enjoy it.

"That’s why they say it’s life-changing. Because your priorities change. It was riding, riding, riding. And now I’m married and have a kid. Now I have to balance it all out.”

Not that racing is going to be too far removed.

“I had him in my hands the first hour and we’re watching the replay,” he said of a race he was scheduled to ride. “I’m working on it. I’m working on it.”

Beckham weighed out at five pounds, eight ounces and is 18 inches long, his dad said. Though Oct. 7 was the due date, “If everything checks out, the way it’s going, he can come home Monday,” Landeros said. “He’s a little thing, but hey, he’ll grow.”

Does he look like a jockey? “Aw man, I don’t know,” he said. “I tell you what: He had a pretty good grip on my hand for a long time. I’m hoping he transitions to a golfer one day.”

Giant Payday was up close to the early pace when he finished last of six in the Grade III Arlington Classic. But he has thrived since being allowed to relax off the pace and make one run, capturing an Ellis Park allowance race and coming from 16 lengths back to take the $200,000 Mystic Lake Derby.

“The thing that’s helped him is that he wants to close,” Wilkes said. “He’s got to settle.”

Take it as a sign how well Giant Payday is doing that Wilkes is running him back 15 days after the Minnesota race.

“I’ve had a lot of high expectations of him from Day One,” Landeros said. “I thought at Arlington he’d really run well. That was a big disappointment, but we figured out a lot about the horse, what he wants to do out there. He’s starting to pick up confidence. His last couple of races, he’s been taking steps forward. He’s only going to get better with age and distance. He has the package to be a very, very good horse.”

Edited Kentucky Downs release

Exacta Systems Dueling Grounds Derby
Post time: Sunday at 5:27 p.m. Central
Purse: $350,000 ($175,000 KTDF)
Distance: 1 5/16 miles
1  Giant Payday (124) Landeros/Wilkes
2  Bronson (124) Gaffalione/Maker 6-1
3  Big Bend (118) Van Dyke/Proctor 12-1
4  Society Beau (118) Graham/Howard 10-1
5  Parlor (120) Leparoux/Kenneally 3-1
6  Watch Me Whip (118) Albarado/Romans 10-1
7  Holiday Bonus (118) Prado/Motion 12-1
8  Gorgeous Kitten (118) Geroux/Maker 9-2
9  Muggsamatic scratched
10 Hollow Point (118) J. Ortiz/Casse 8-1
11 Capture the Glory (118) Cardenas/Gallagher 20-1