Nationally prominent jockey Shane Sellers will continue his comeback from retirement at Delaware Park when the track kicks off its 73rd season of live racing May 1.
From 1983 to 2004, Sellers, 43, was well on his way to a memorable career, winning more than 4,000 races. The Louisiana native was the leading rider at Keeneland, Churchill Downs, and Arlington Park on multiple occasions. Some of his most notable mounts included Skip Away, Pulpit , Black Tie Affair, Countess Diana, and Buck’s Boy.
Sellers decided in 2004 to take some time away from the game after spending much time advocating for jockey issues, and burning some bridges in the process. He began his comeback in July 2009, winning his first race back aboard the Mark Guidry-trained Ide Ball at Evangeline Downs, the track where he won his first career race.
“I understood that I left the game with some baggage and I knew there was going to be some people not coming my way, so I knew I had to depend upon my ability,” said Sellers. “When I was down and out and really did not have anybody, I turned to God. He got me back. That is what I ask every day. I do not ask to win. I ask for him to let me ride to the best of my ability and be confident. I understood for my comeback to be a success that was how I was going to make it happen.”
Sellers posted strong numbers at the recently-concluded Fair Grounds meet, where he finished fifth in the jockey standings with 49 wins and earnings of $1,881,265.
“I had an unbelievable meet on a lot of different levels,” said Sellers. “I finished fifth in the standings and I finished near the top in purses earned. I went into the Fair Grounds meet with an open mind and with the attitude to change what everybody thought of me. If I accomplished that it would be have been a successful meet, and I did, though it took a little longer with some. I rode for some people that I thought would never give me a shot again, so it gave me hope that at 43 years old I can still compete with these kids even though I had been away from riding for nearly five years. On all those counts, I feel I was successful.”
Upon the advice of trainer Cody Autrey, Sellers decided to make Delaware Park the next stop on his comeback trail for the opportunity to ride good horses. Previously, Sellers has only been to Delaware Park a handful of times, usually to ride in stakes races.
“I know Delaware Park has a tough competitive meet,” said Sellers. “I know I am going to have to come here and work hard and do whatever I need to do, but I am hungry and I want it again. This place is really amazing. I love golf and it was pretty cool driving in and seeing the golf course right there. The racetrack and stable area are beautiful and it really reminds of Saratoga and Keeneland. A real laid back nice place. I have been to the track and it seems like a great track with a real good feel. I do not know if it is just because I am so happy to be back in the game or what, but so far I am really enjoying myself.”
Delaware’s 116-day meeting will feature live racing on Saturdays and Monday through Wednesday, with Thursday live cards scheduled from July 15 through August 26. First race post time is 1:15 p.m.