Apprentice Eric Cancel Turning Heads in New York

By Karen M. Johnson For JockeyTalk360.com

Eric CancelOn a recent and hot summer afternoon at Belmont Park, apprentice Eric Cancel’s cool-headed approach to race riding was on full display.

Patience, a great asset in a young rider and an attribute that isn’t always present early in a jockey’s career, was exhibited by Cancel in the seventh race on July 12.

While riding the Todd Pletcher-trained My Kinda Gal, the five-pound apprentice hugged the hedge down the backstretch of the turf sprint. With three furlongs remaining, Cancel looked to be in a switch, but he maintained his inside position and a seam materialized that led him to a narrow victory. A stewards’ inquiry and on objection from Kendrick Carmouche, the jockey aboard runner-up Barrel of Dreams, was lodged against the unofficial winner. But after a several-minute review of the replay, the stewards allowed the result to stand, citing “incidental contact between the rivals near the wire.”

It was a good day at the office for the 18-year-old: From five mounts, Cancel registered a win, a second, and a third.

His score aboard My Kinda Gal represented Cancel’s 53rd career victory since accepting his first mount on June 1, 2014 at Camarero Race Track in his native Puerto Rico. His 49 wins this year in the United States rank him 8th among all apprentices in North America. Cancel’s earnings of $2,079,962 thus far in 2015 place him third nationally among bug riders.

Richard Migliore, who won the 1981 Eclipse Award for top apprentice and is currently a racing analyst for the New York Racing Association’s television network and FOX Sports 1, likes what he has seen from Cancel.

“He’s very polished for a kid who just went from seven to five pounds,” the former rider commented. “He still has some things experience-wise he has to work out. But I think he’s super talented, and he’s obviously super passionate about it, which is a pretty formidable combination.”

A son of parents who were both jockeys in Puerto Rico, and a graduate of the Escuela Vocacional Hipica school for riding, Cancel was quick to show promise. After winning the first race he rode in, and piloting three more winners at Camarero in the next two weeks, a friend of Cancel’s reached out to jockey agent Angel Cordero Jr.

A Hall of Fame jockey and the long-time agent of superstar John Velazquez, who also moved to the States from Puerto Rico to ride, Cordero agreed to handle Cancel’s book, and thus began the apprentice’s next chapter.

Although Cancel was eager to continue his career upon his arrival in Florida, Cordero had other plans for his new pupil.

Read more . . .

Who's Hot

Prado Edgar-CNL-071113-001Jockeys’ Guild Jockey of the Week Edgar Prado went from Gulfstream to Delaware Park for some stakes action. Prado’s trip paid off as he won two stakes including the upset in the Delaware Oaks aboard Calamity Kate. Prado finished the week winning 36% and coming in the money on 64% of his mounts.

Jose Lezcano had a great week at Belmont and Arlington Park. On Saturday at Arlington, Lezcano won the the Gr. 3 American Derby aboard World Approval and went back to Belmont on Sunday to win the Manila Stakes aboard Gallery. For the week Lezcano finished with five wins from 19 mounts and came in the money on 58% of his mounts.

Florent GerouxFlorent Geroux was very impressive at Arlington Park as he won the Gr. 3 Stars and Striped Handicap aboard The Pizza Man was tied for third in wins in North America. Geroux finished the week winning 47% and coming in the money an incredible 87% of his mounts.

Colby Hernandez continues to dominate at Evangeline as he has built up a 43 win lead in the standings. Once again, Hernandez led North America in wins last week with nine. Hernandez won the DS Shine Young Futurity on Saturday and finished the week 9-3-4 from 31 mounts.

AQHA Quarter Horse Standings

John Hamilton (Delta Downs) remains on top of the wins leaderboard for the year with 101 from 485 mounts. Raul Ramirez Jr. (Delta Downs) ranks second with 92 wins from 427 starts and David Alvarez (Delta Downs) ranks third with 86 wins from 404 mounts.

Raul Ramirez Jr. remained at the top of the AQHA earnings leaderboard with $1,582,350 from 427 starts. GR Carter Jr. (Ruidoso) is sitting in second in the standings with $1,447,783 and John Hamilton is third with $1,434,992.

 Keep up with all the AQHA leaders here . . .

Del Mar jockey colony as good as ever

By Ed Zieralski From The San Diego Union-Tribune

— Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith’s veteran eyes tell him the current jockey colony at Del Mar is very good and competitive.

But Smith said these jockeys – a mix of Hall of Fame veterans, journeymen and rising stars — have one another very important attribute in common.

“Character,” was the word Smith arrived at to describe the quality of Del Mar’s riders this summer.

It’s a terrific riding colony, with Hall of Famers such as Smith, Gary Stevens, Kent Desormeaux and Alex Solis along with returning riding champion Rafael Bejarano, Victor Espinoza, who has won five of the last six Triple Crown races that includes this year’s Triple Crown, Martin Garcia, Corey Nakatani, Martin Pedroza and David Flores, the Tijuana native who has returned from Japan to ride again in Southern California.

But it hardly ends there. Newcomer Felipe Valdez, a 37-year-old Mexico City native who has recovered from a devastating back injury that sidelined him 3½ years, adds more depth to the veteran crew. And that depth goes deeper with young stars like Joe Talamo, Tyler Baze, Fernando Perez and Santiago Gonzalez. And certainly, last, but not least, there are Drayden Van Dyke, 20, who won the Eclipse Award for being the top apprentice in 2014, and French rider Flavien Prat, 22, the youngest rider at 17½ to get to 65 wins and lose his apprentice allowance in the history of horse racing in France.

“Talent isn’t the question,” Smith said. “There’s unbelievable talent in that room right now. But what we truly have is a group of quality people, with character, trying to put out what we’re supposed to be.”

Read more . . .

Velazquez Set for Jock Competition in Turkey

From The Blood-Horse

CARPE DIEM - Claiborne Breeders' Futurity Gr I - 10-04-14 - R08 - KEE - John VelazquezHall of Fame jockey John Velazquez will join an all-star cast of riders for the Turkish International Jockey Challenge on Wednesday, July 15, at Istanbul’s Veliefendi Racecourse.

Also to compete are Richard Hughes (Great Britain), Mirco Demuro (Italy), Kevin Manning (Ireland), and Pierre-Charles Boudot (France) in taking on a team of leading local riders in the four-race challenge.

U.S. wagering company Xpressbet is an official partner of The Jockey’s Guild in the U.S. and is sponsoring Velazquez to promote U.S. racing for the company, according to a press release.

Velazquez is eager to participate in the event.

“It’s a great honor to be asked to participate in the International Jockey Challenge and I am looking forward to helping to promote U.S. racing on Xpressbet’s behalf while I’m there,” said the rider, who is chairman of the Guild and North America’s all-time leading money-earning jockey,

“By supporting an event like the International Jockey Challenge, we are able to introduce one of our leading jockeys to a group of incredibly passionate racing fans and horseplayers,” Xpressbet pesident Ron Luniewski said. “We wish Johnny the best in Turkey, and we’re pulling for him to bring the trophy home to the United States.”

In 2014 and 2013, Xpressbet sponsored Javier Castellano’s participation in the event, while in 2012, Cornelio Velasquez became the first U.S.-based rider to win the competition.

For more information about the challenge, click here.

Read more . . .

HBPA Foundation Assisting Injured Assiniboia Jockey Selman

By Ray Paulick

The National HBPA Foundation will be joining many others in providing assistance to jockey Alyssa Selman. Support will go towards a fund set up to assist Alyssa and her family with medical bills following her racing accident.  The incident occurred on June 27 at Assiniboia Downs in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. The Manitoba HBPA will facilitate Alyssa receiving the National HBPA’s well wishes and support.  Please contact the Manitoba HBPA or The National HBPA office for further information on needs and support.

Alyssa, 29, is married and has two children.  She underwent surgery for damage to her spinal cord and fractured vertebrae, shortly following the accident. Her injuries occurred when she was thrown from her mount after her horse stumbled.  Alyssa’s mount clipped heels with another horse on the track which caused her mount to lose footing.  Her doctors currently are unable to report if she will fully recover.   At this point doctors are concerned about Alyssa’s ability to walk normally after her recovery, but they have not ruled out that possibility.

“The indication from her family is that the surgery was deemed successful,” the track said on its website. “However, the road to recovery will be lengthy. The finality of her back injury cannot be stated at this time.”

Assiniboia Downs will be hosting a fundraiser for Selman on July 19, and donations are also being accepted online. For more information, go to www.assiniboiadowns.com.

“I know I speak for all horsemen in saying that Alyssa is in our thoughts and that we are hoping for a full recovery,” said Robin Richards, president and chairperson of the board for the National HBPA.

The National HBPA is the largest racing horsemen’s representative association in North America, with 30 affiliate member organizations representing over 30,000 owners and trainers of thoroughbred racehorses.

Read More. . .

Prado Pulls Delaware Oaks Upset and Wins Jockeys’ Guild Jockey of the Week

Jockey Edgar Prado lit up the tote board on Saturday in the Delaware Oaks and also won a stakes race on the under card previous to that Oaks win. That effort helped him secure the Jockeys’ Guild Jockey of the Week Award for July 6th – July 12th. The award is voted on by a panel of experts for riding accomplishments by members of the Jockeys’ Guild, the organization which represents more than 950 riders in North America.

Prado kicked of his stakes winning double with a victory in the Cape Henlopen Stakes aboard Holiday Star for trainer Graham Motion. The win payout of $13.20 would almost always seem like a square price for a rider of Edgar’s ability but for fans of the Eclipse winning rider there was more to come.

Just a few races later Prado would get a leg up in the paddock to ride trainer Kelly Breen’s Calamity Kate in the Grade III Delaware Oaks at odds of 54-1. She was sent off by the public as the longest shot on the board. Those odds were skewed a bit by the heavily bet favorite Lovely Maria, who went post-ward at odds of 2-5.

Edgar took the fight right to the field of eight and broke alertly with his longshot mount crossing over quickly to the rail to dictate terms. Calamity Kate got away with moderate fractions early, but when the time came to run, the 3-year-old filly did just that. As the field bunched up at the top of the lane Prado asked his mount and she quickly responded by opening up an immediate three length lead with an eighth of a mile to travel.

Read More. . .

JockeyTalk360.com spotlights the riders across North America and around the world who may be the bravest, toughest and most accomplished of all athletes. The Jockey of the Week is selected by a vote of representatives of America’s Best Racing, the Daily Racing Form, Equibase, the Jockeys’ Guild, the Paulick Report, the Thoroughbred Daily News, National Thoroughbred Racing Association, National Turf Writers and Broadcasters, Thoroughbred Racing Associations, Turf Publicists of America and racing fans.

To find out more about the great sport of horse racing, and to learn more about your favorite jockeys visit JockeyTalk360.com. Sign up for the newsletter.