Racing & Wagering

Barn Notes: Friday, September 07, 2012

| Churchill Downs Communications | 09/08/2012 #

In Today's Notes: Apprentice Jockey Alex Canchari Returns to Arlington; Leading Rider Torres Still Torrid With Riding Double Thursday

In a sense, apprentice jockey Alex Canchari has now come full circle in Chicago over the past year. Last December 26, the 18-year-old native of Shakopee, Minnesota, (Canterbury country) had his first career mount at Hawthorne and accepted 16 mounts on the Southside, finishing second once and third twice before packing his tack and leaving for Oaklawn Park.

On opening day at that central Arkansas oval, Canchari won the first race of the season as well as the first race of his career aboard Run Mama Beare Run, a horse he had worked in Chicago for her trainer Rusty Hellman.

"That was probably the best feeling I've ever felt in my life," said Canchari at the time of his maiden win accomplished in front of Oaklawn's opening day crowd of 18,037. Run Mama Beare Run returned a win mutuel of $14.20, but later in the afternoon the teenager wowed the crowd again with his second career winner aboard an Allen Milligan-trained horse named Simply Gone. That one lit up the tote board with a $76.80 straight price.

Following his impressive debut winter at Oaklawn, Canchari returned to Chicago to ride at Arlington and quickly compiled five wins during the adolescent days of the local season. However, on May 19, Canchari was given the chance to go to the east coast to ride in New York, New Jersey, and Delaware.

"I rode at least one winner at all the tracks I rode at," said Canchari, who returned to Arlington in early September. "My biggest thrill was winning a race at Belmont Park, but I also won at Monmouth, Philadelphia and Delaware. Then one day I went down to Delaware to work one horse but got hurt breaking a bone in my shoulder and tearing some ligaments.

"I was planning to go back home to Minnesota to visit my sister anyway," said Canchari, the son of retired jockey Luis Canchari who rode at Canterbury in the '80s and '90s. "I worked in concessions at Canterbury when I was 14, so when my shoulder healed I started riding at Canterbury for (trainer) Mac Robertson. I won 15 races in two weeks there (including a horse that paid $57.20) before their season ended. That's when I came back here to Arlington.

"I plan to go back to Hawthorne when Arlington closes and then I probably will go back to Oaklawn again for their season when it begins in January," Canchari concluded.

Because of his shoulder injury, Canchari's apprentice allowance has been extended by three weeks and will continue into the month of March. Through the first week of September, he had won 40 races, finished second 40 times and third 44 times from 393 career mounts.

With a riding double Thursday, Chicago-raised veteran jockey Francisco Torres became the first rider this season to reach the 80-win mark after guiding Frank Calabrese's Sabrina's Dance to the winner's circle after the fourth race for trainer Danny Miller and returning once again to that enclosure after the seventh event astride Lady Haddassah, owned by Tom Rinaudo and trained by Kim Lunsford.

Torres, in pursuit of his first riding title at his hometown oval at 43-years of age, led Arlington's defending jockey champion James Graham – his closest competition – by eight wins entering Friday's races as the 76th race day of the 90-day 2012 Arlington season.

Graham had one winner Thursday, accomplished aboard John Good, Black Sheep Racing and Loose On The Lead's Agave Cat for conditioner Good.