Fresh off a riding title at Presque Isle Downs in northwest Pennsylvania where the 35-year-old won 99 races during the 101-day meet that ended September 28, Beckner made a favorable first impression with a victory aboard Juke Joint in the $150,000 Maryland Million Nursery last Saturday.
Witte, who has booked mounts for Karamanos the last four years, is best-known for guiding the career of Ryan Fogelsonger, helping the rider capture 10 riding titles and the Eclipse Award for outstanding apprentice in 2002.
Beckner won the Eclipse Award for outstanding apprentice eight years before Fogelsonger and spent more than a decade on the New Jersey circuit (Monmouth Park and The Meadowlands). He arrives in Maryland with nearly 900 career victories and more than $24 million in earnings.
“I did very well in New Jersey but got hurt three years in a row (2004-2005-2006) and lost so much business it came time to make a change,” added Beckner. “I went to Presque Isle last year when it first opened and did phenomenal. I went back this year and picked up where I left off. Sometimes it is about a fresh start and getting the right opportunity to showcase your skills.”
The plan is for Beckner to ride at Laurel Park during the fall and winter meetings before returning to Presque Isle Downs next spring, just as Karamanos returns.