Hawthorne Racecourse (11/10/12)
Contact: Ron Uchman
Alex Canchari: Rising Star
Apprentice Alex Canchari has taken Hawthorne by storm. It shouldn’t have come as a surprise. This talented and enthusiastic young gentleman, he’s only 18, comes from a racing family. His father, Luis (Louie the Glove) and his brother Patrick are jockeys though his father is retired from riding and spends more of his time getting 2-year-olds ready to race and occasionally training. Patrick rode here in the past.
“I always wanted to be a rider. My father was a rider. I dreamed of being the leading rider. It’s just kind of surreal that it could actually happen.
“My brother and I had ponies when we were growing up and we used to ride them all the time. We would race each other. When I was 16 I got my exercise license at Canterbury. Then I came to Arlington to gallop horses.
“I rode here for two days early this spring. Eusebio Razo and Diego Sanchez signed for my jockey license here. My first win came at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas. In fact, I won with the first two horses that I rode there. One paid about $20 the other paid about $80. My first winner was Run Mama Beare Run for Rusty Hellman so it had the Chicago connection.
“After Oaklawn I went to New York. Unfortunately, I broke my shoulder and was out for about four and a half weeks. Basically, I just got back to riding in the last two months. But, fortunately, because I was out, at the end of my apprenticeship I’ll get another four and a half weeks extension because of the time I was off.
“I won races at Oaklawn, Belmont, Monmouth, Philadelphia, Penn National, Delaware, Canterbury, Arlington and, of course, Hawthorne.
“After the Hot Springs meet I came back to Hawthorne and rode here for about three days and won five races. I then went to Arlington for the first two months of their meet and was second in the jockey standings for that time. But, I got an offer to ride in New York so I had to try it. I rode there for about a month but then broke my shoulder.
“I wouldn’t mind going back to New York to ride but I really love it on this circuit. The horses are good and the people are great. I get some of the credit when my horses win but there is a lot of hard work that goes into every runner. The trainers, the grooms, the hotwalkers; everybody does their part.
“When I first came to Chicago I worked for Moises Yanez and Brian Williamson. They both helped me so much. They introduced me to everyone. Mr. Yanez was incredible. He set me up with Brian. I was breezing like six horses a day and galloping four for Brian. I was getting a lot of experience with good horses. I would show up in the morning at Moses’ barn and he would be like, `Ok, at 7:30 you’re going to go gallop one for Catalano.' The next day it would be something like `Ok, tomorrow you have two for Brian.'
“That's how it was the whole time I worked for him. I would gallop like six for him and then he would have me set up to work one or two for another trainer, just so I got to know everyone. I was only 16 but, by the time I started riding, I already knew everybody which had to help.
“I’m also thankful to the other riders here. They have helped me quite a bit. E T Baird, Chris Emigh, Francisco Torres, really everybody, have helped me by going over my races with me. They’ll tell me that I should have done this in one spot and maybe done this in another. The same thing happened in Hot Springs. I had some really good riders giving me pointers. I learned a lot about pace in Arkansas. I learned a lot about turf riding in New York. That taught me a lot about patience which has helped me out here.
“I’ll ride here until the end of the meet then go back to Oaklawn, I finished in the top 10 at Oaklawn last year and I would love to improve on that record, and then come back here.
When asked how long he planned on staying on this circuit, Alex gave the kind of answer that you like to hear. “Until they kick me out. I’m having a real good time here.”
But, Canchari does have a dream. “I want to ride in the Kentucky Derby.”
It probably won’t happen while he’s still an apprentice but if he keeps riding, and winning, the way he has been, there’s a strong possibility that a Run for the Roses could be in his future.
Live racing returns to Hawthorne on Friday, October 5 and concludes Sunday, December 30. Live racing will be conducted every Wednesday-Sunday. First post daily is 2:10 pm. Hawthorne Race Course is located in Stickney IL at 3501 S. Laramie Ave. For information on live racing or groups at Hawthorne Race Course, contact Hawthorne at 708-780-3700 or visit Hawthorne online at www.Hawthorneracecourse.com.