By Rick Albright,

When the gates flew back just before 2 p.m. in Chicago for the first race of the 2015 Spring meeting all the jockeys were bracing for the chilly run down the backstretch. It was a whole new experience for accomplished rider Dick Cardenas.  Overcast skies replaced sunny ones, tall industrial smokestacks replaced overhanging Palms and temperatures in the single digits were far from the balmy climes of Caymanas Park.CARDENAS-DICK

This 30 year old journeyman had 500 plus winners in just over six years at that premiere racecourse located in Portmore, Jamaica. He was the winner of the 2011 riding title there. Other highlights of his time in Jamaica include his Triple Crown feat aboard MARK MY WORD in 2010 and winning six consecutive races on a program in September 2011. He also had a second Derby winner in the front running outsider TECHNOMOTO for trainer Anthony Nunes, and Gold Cup wins aboard HAIL THE GENIUS and SAINT CECELIA.

Previous to that stint in Jamaica Cardenas was an apprentice in Panama, a nation that is known for its export of fine riding talent, where he rode just over 300 winners.

One of the people that has influenced his career the most is his fellow countryman Fernando Jara, a rider who has had proven success in the United States. Jara had the winning ride in the 2006 Belmont Stakes aboard JAZIL and he piloted INVASOR to victory in the Breeders’ Cup Classic and the Dubai World Cup. Apart from being a fine rider, he is a close personal friend to Cardenas whom he has given good advice and encouragement to over the years.

He is represented by long-time top jockey agent Dennis Cooper who feels he will acclimate quickly to his new circuit and looks forward to a bright future here in the States at both the present Hawthorne meeting and their future choice of racing venues after this spring meet.

Cardenas didn’t take long to visit the chilly winners enclosure in Stickney as he booted home SCORPIOBDANCING, the longest shot on the board, trained by Terrel Gore in only his fourth mount in Chicago.