Alex on the Lead

Stoupinator - Northbound Pride Oaks - 08-03-13

The calls came from different sources informing Alex Canchari that a longtime friend had been found dead in a barn at Prairie Meadows.

Other calls followed informing him that it might be someone else. He wasn’t sure what to believe. When he tried to contact the friend, there was no answer. He continued calling.Eventually, the fellow’s phone just went to voice mail whenever Canchari called.

All of a sudden getting days, as Canchari did this week, didn’t seem so bad. Losing a friend, somebody who has encouraged you since you first started riding, has a way of putting the rest of life into a whole different perspective.

Canchari was just starting to ride a few years ago and this fellow was always there to encourage him, to tell him he was riding well and to keep it up. You don’t forget people like that.

Canchari had little time to dwell on his own issues this week. Finally, after making phone call after phone call, he got an answer.

“He’s OK. I just talked to him,” Canchari said Friday morning. “It was somebody else who died.”

Canchari got the news during a trip from the Mall of America, where he had taken his mother shopping Thursday night. While mom shopped, so did Alex, and his billfold fell out of a pocket in a dressing room.

“Good thing we were the last ones in the store last night,” he said. “I called and they found the billfold.”

That was not as likely to have been the case under different conditions, so all in all, the sun was bright, the air was cool and life seemed just fine late Friday morning. Canchari was about to help a friend move a boat upon his return from Bloomington so that he and his brother Patrick and some friends could do some fishing.

He can’t ride again until next Thursday yet, comparatively speaking, all is well in the life of Alex Canchari, the leading rider at Canterbury Park.

Canchari had a six-win lead over Ry Eikleberry heading into Friday night’s card. He finished two wins behind last year’s leading rider, Dean Butler, and was expected to be one of the leading riders again this year, but it wasn’t certain that he would return. That he is in Shakopee at all is undoubtedly due to the influence of the track’s perennial leading trainer, Mac Robertson.

“I was second in the standings at Arlington Park and Mac called me to come up here. My plans were to stay there,” Canchari said, who has someplace to live should he change his mind. “I’m still paying for an apartment there,” he explained.

Canchari attributes his quick start at Canterbury to several factors. “I’ve good a good agent (Chuck Costanzo), I’ve been riding good horses and I’ve improved as a rider,” he said.

He has matured in other ways, as well, he says. He’s learned to be more patient on a horse and to use his head in situations he used to confront with aggression.

Experience and rubbing elbows with good riders hasn’t hurt, either. “I have always worked on getting horses to come off the bridle and relax during a race, to save something for the end,” he said. “I do have a knack for getting them to relax.”

Tips from Edgar Prado and his agent, Bobby Klesaris, haven’t hurt, either. “Edgar is from Peru, just like my dad,” Canchari said. “When I was in New York, Edgar always told me that we Peruvians have to stick together, to look out for one another.”

Never mind that Alex and his brother Patrick were born and raised in Shakopee after their father established roots here, the reference is understood.

Canchari was in a mood to say the same about the mistaken death notice on his friend. “I guess some people thought it was him,” he said. “I’d glad they were wrong, but I did know the other fellow, too. Just not as well.”

The friend had a word of advice for Canchari when they finally talked on Friday.

“Give your mother a hug,” he said. “You never, never know.”

 Jim Wells


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