Recount’s March 22 victory at Oaklawn was noteworthy because the gelding surpassed $700,000 in career earnings. It was noteworthy for jockey Alex Canchari, too, only for a much more personal reason.
Recount represented Canchari’s first victory since his older brother, jockey Patrick Canchari, was critically injured several days earlier in an automobile accident in Arizona.
“It was for him,” Alex Canchari said. “There’s been two times in my life that I’ve cried after a race. One was when I won my first race at Santa Anita and when I won that race the other day because I really felt like he was riding with me. I came from behind in that race, and I had such a clear trip. That was a special one.”
According to a GoFundMe page created March 18, Patrick Canchari was headed to work when he was involved in the March 17 accident. He was transported to HonorHealth Deer Valley Medical Center in Phoenix and diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury and a fractured C4 vertebra (neck), sedated and placed on a ventilator. Canchari, 29, had ridden three winners this year at Turf Paradise in Phoenix before the accident.
Alex Canchari said his family is in Arizona, but have been unable to see Patrick because the hospital is on government “lockdown” (COVID-19). Alex Canchari has remained in Hot Springs and continues to ride, although he took off all his mounts March 19 because he was “devastated” over the accident. The brothers hail from a racing family and grew up in the shadow of Canterbury Park in suburban Minneapolis.
“We did everything together,” Alex Canchari said. “I used to do my online school when he was an apprentice and I used to watch every race at Hawthorne. I would sit in the grandstand and watch all his races and we lived in the dorms together. We got our first jobs at the track when I was 10 years old and he was 12. We grew up playing hockey every day. He taught me everything.”
Canchari said Thursday morning that his brother is scheduled to be transported to a rehabilitation facility in the next few days, adding he “opened his eyes” and “looked at us” during a Facetime video call Wednesday.
“That’s a good sign,” Alex Canchari said.
Jockeying for Position
The view at the top of the Oaklawn jockey standings is crowded, with four riders separated by three victories following Thursday’s action, Day 40 of the scheduled 57-day season.
Joe Talamo rode one winner Thursday to take a 37-36 lead over six-time local riding champion Ricardo Santana Jr. Defending champion David Cohen is third (35) and Martin Garcia (34) fourth. Talamo and Garcia are riding regularly at Oaklawn for the first time after previously being based in Southern California during the winter and early spring.
“That would be cool,” Talamo said last Saturday morning, when asked about winning the riding title in his Oaklawn debut. “It’s under interesting circumstances, obviously. You know, Ricardo has been off and David Cohen was gone for five days, so, obviously, that factors into it. But that would be awesome. But more than anything, I just want to try to keep doing what we’re doing and just keep getting good opportunities. The rest will take care of itself.”
Talamo has a meet-high six stakes victories and entered Friday No. 2 in purse earnings ($2,448,688). Santana tops all riders in purse earnings ($2,592,640). Santana is scheduled to resume riding Sunday (COVID-19 self-quarantine).
Teaming for a win
Kelsi Harr had ridden 22 winners in her career through Thursday, but until last week none had been for the trainer who helped mold her riding career.
That changed March 27 when Harr guided favored Millie’s an Angel ($3.20) to a front-running 2 ¼-length victory in the second race for trainer Al Cates of Hot Springs. Harr, Oaklawn’s leading apprentice jockey this year, has been an exercise rider for Cates for the last eight years. The duo had been 0 for 21 together — all at Oaklawn — in the afternoon.
“I was thrilled,” Cates said last Saturday morning. “She was really thrilled because she’s been wanting to win one for me so bad, I know. We thought we had a couple of shots before, but it didn’t work out.”
Harr only works for Cates from November until May because they normally head to different venues after the Oaklawn meeting ends. Harr is based at Canterbury Park in suburban Minneapolis, where she began her riding career in the summer of 2018. Cates is a fixture at Louisiana Downs.
Harr entered Friday with eight victories at the meet. Two other apprentice riders, Chel-c Bailey and Charles Roberts, each had three victories.
Never (bet) against the family?
Fans of “The Godfather,” will have something to root for in today’s 10th race at Oaklawn. That’s because Don Vito Corleone — a 4-year-old Midshipman gelding for trainer Rick Hiles — is scheduled to make his career debut in the maiden special weights event at 1 1/16 miles.
The more famous Don Vito Corleone, of course, was the fictional character played by screen legend Marlon Brando in the 1972 classic crime film.
Hiles said Thursday morning that he didn’t know of any juicy backstory involving the gelding, other than co-owners E. McCarroll Holdings and Sylvia J. Norris originally wanted to name him “Don Vito.”
“I think they said, ‘Well, let’s just put Corleone on the end,’ ” Hiles said. “That’s all I know.”
Bred by the University of Kentucky, Don Vito Corleone has a series of sharp works, dating to late January at Oaklawn, in advance of his career debut.
“He’s a pretty good horse,” Hiles said.
Hiles is the longtime president of the Kentucky division of the Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association.