Jockey Carlos Castro Wins 1,000th career race

Carlos Castro

Jockey Carlos Castro won his 1,000th career thoroughbred race when he rode Riseseastsetswest to victory in the tenth race Friday at Canterbury Park in Shakopee, Minn.

Castro, 32, began his riding career in 2001 in his native Puerto Rico before coming to the United States that same year. His 9,683 mounts have earned more than $17 million in purses.

“It feels amazing,” Castro said. “I’ve been waiting four or five weeks. I knew it was coming.”

Canterbury Jockeys Make Plans

Some of the trailers are lined up like sentries on the backside, ready to receive their cargo when the meet officially closes on Monday. They have been swept out and lined with fresh straw in anticipation of the awaiting trip, to farms where their cargo will be turned out or to other racetracks where they will be assigned new stalls.

The men and women who have ridden those horses this summer in Shakopee are making plans as well, preparing to take short breaks before engaging in a new meet at another racetrack, in Chicago, Oklahoma or in Phoenix.

Many of the riders who spend their winters riding at Turf Paradise in Phoenix shift their tack to Shakopee in the spring because the two meets dovetail perfectly.

Scott Stevens, for one, is heading home to Phoenix for the first time in the last four years prepared to ride when Turf Paradise begins its meet the first week of October. This is the first Canterbury meet in four years Stevens has been able to complete, and it was a good meet at that. Through Friday’s card he has ridden 27 winners.

Now it’s on to Phoenix.

“I’m anxious for that,” he said. “It’s been a while.” Stevens has been either injured, undergoing therapy or awaiting surgery and unable to ride when the Phoenix meet began for the last three autumns.

But first there is a scheduled trip. “I’m going for a week to Hawaii,” he said.

Sounds great, but it is hard to match the journey Lori Keith plans to take before dusting off her tack for the Phoenix meet. She’s planning on a respite in the South of France where her parents have a restaurant. “For some good food, good wine and fine company,” she said.

And then there is the sad tale of Canterbury Park’s 2012 riding champion, Tanner Riggs, who struggles to maintain his riding weight and is best off staying busy rather than taking a break.

“I think I’ll catch the last three weeks of Arlington and then go to Hawthorne,” he said.

Not much of a vacation, he was told.

“Can’t really take one,” he responded.

Patricia Trimble heads out on Wednesday with her husband, Rusty Shaw, who has spent the summer on injured reserve and is still awaiting surgery. Her five-year-old daughter, Taylor Page, is beginning kindergarten, at a school not far from Turf Paradise.

Nik Goodwin, the 2012 quarter horse riding champion, is headed to Ocala, Fla., where he intends to spend the next few months breaking babies. But first he and his wife will take a trip to Yellowstone National Park, while the boys, four-year-old Layne and one-year-old Hunter, spend some time with grandpa and grandma in Bemidji. “We’re going to fly them up to spend time with my parents,” Goodwin said.

Bobby Walker, Jr. will head home to West Monroe, La. His son Aaron, 13, will begin the eighth grade in either West Monroe or Bossier City. The uncertainty has to do with Walker’s daughter Brittany, a radiology technician, who has agreed to help out if Aaron goes to school in Bossier City where she lives.

Wilson Dieguez will head home to Phoenix, too, for his 12th season at Turf Paradise. He intends to return to Shakopee for a second time next spring. “I’ll be back, for sure, God willing,” he said.

Derek Bell will take a five-day trip to Canada to angle for walleyes but intends to see if he’ll be allowed to ride at Arlington Park, now that the “flag” on his name has been eliminated.

Carlos Castro is bound for Charles Town for three or four weeks and later will give Hawthore a shot.

Adolfo Morales?

He’s a Phoenix native, who’ll take some time off and “gain some weight,” he said facetiously.

Dean Butler, who is likely to finish second this season in the standings after winning three consecutive titles at Canterbury, hasn’t taken any time off since he started in 1992. “If I get days or something,” he said. “Or sick.”

So, it’s off to Remington Park and then home to Tampa Bay Downs for the winter.

About that time, Stevens look up at a television in the jockeys’ lounge with the horses for the fourth race Thursday night parading in front of the grandstand.”Hey, that’s the horse that broke my shoulder last summer,” he said, referring to Proud Kylean, who had Geovanni Franco on her back.

Another reminder for Stevens that it’s been a good summer indeed.

This blog was written by Canterbury Staff Writer Jim Wells. Wells was a longtime sportswriter at the Pioneer Press and is a member of the Canterbury Park Hall of Fame.

Photo Credit: Coady Photography

Canterbury Jockeys Make Plans

Some of the trailers are lined up like sentries on the backside, ready to receive their cargo when the meet officially closes on Monday. They have been swept out and lined with fresh straw in anticipation of the awaiting trip, to farms where their cargo will be turned out or to other racetracks where they will be assigned new stalls.

The men and women who have ridden those horses this summer in Shakopee are making plans as well, preparing to take short breaks before engaging in a new meet at another racetrack, in Chicago, Oklahoma or in Phoenix.

Many of the riders who spend their winters riding at Turf Paradise in Phoenix shift their tack to Shakopee in the spring because the two meets dovetail perfectly.

Scott Stevens, for one, is heading home to Phoenix for the first time in the last four years prepared to ride when Turf Paradise begins its meet the first week of October. This is the first Canterbury meet in four years Stevens has been able to complete, and it was a good meet at that. Through Friday’s card he has ridden 27 winners.

Now it’s on to Phoenix.

“I’m anxious for that,” he said. “It’s been a while.” Stevens has been either injured, undergoing therapy or awaiting surgery and unable to ride when the Phoenix meet began for the last three autumns.

But first there is a scheduled trip. “I’m going for a week to Hawaii,” he said.

Sounds great, but it is hard to match the journey Lori Keith plans to take before dusting off her tack for the Phoenix meet. She’s planning on a respite in the South of France where her parents have a restaurant. “For some good food, good wine and fine company,” she said.

And then there is the sad tale of Canterbury Park’s 2012 riding champion, Tanner Riggs, who struggles to maintain his riding weight and is best off staying busy rather than taking a break.

“I think I’ll catch the last three weeks of Arlington and then go to Hawthorne,” he said.

Not much of a vacation, he was told.

“Can’t really take one,” he responded.

Patricia Trimble heads out on Wednesday with her husband, Rusty Shaw, who has spent the summer on injured reserve and is still awaiting surgery. Her five-year-old daughter, Taylor Page, is beginning kindergarten, at a school not far from Turf Paradise.

Nik Goodwin, the 2012 quarter horse riding champion, is headed to Ocala, Fla., where he intends to spend the next few months breaking babies. But first he and his wife will take a trip to Yellowstone National Park, while the boys, four-year-old Layne and one-year-old Hunter, spend some time with grandpa and grandma in Bemidji. “We’re going to fly them up to spend time with my parents,” Goodwin said.

Bobby Walker, Jr. will head home to West Monroe, La. His son Aaron, 13, will begin the eighth grade in either West Monroe or Bossier City. The uncertainty has to do with Walker’s daughter Brittany, a radiology technician, who has agreed to help out if Aaron goes to school in Bossier City where she lives.

Wilson Dieguez will head home to Phoenix, too, for his 12th season at Turf Paradise. He intends to return to Shakopee for a second time next spring. “I’ll be back, for sure, God willing,” he said.

Derek Bell will take a five-day trip to Canada to angle for walleyes but intends to see if he’ll be allowed to ride at Arlington Park, now that the “flag” on his name has been eliminated.

Carlos Castro is bound for Charles Town for three or four weeks and later will give Hawthore a shot.

Adolfo Morales?

He’s a Phoenix native, who’ll take some time off and “gain some weight,” he said facetiously.

Dean Butler, who is likely to finish second this season in the standings after winning three consecutive titles at Canterbury, hasn’t taken any time off since he started in 1992. “If I get days or something,” he said. “Or sick.”

So, it’s off to Remington Park and then home to Tampa Bay Downs for the winter.

About that time, Stevens look up at a television in the jockeys’ lounge with the horses for the fourth race Thursday night parading in front of the grandstand.”Hey, that’s the horse that broke my shoulder last summer,” he said, referring to Proud Kylean, who had Geovanni Franco on her back.

Another reminder for Stevens that it’s been a good summer indeed.

This blog was written by Canterbury Staff Writer Jim Wells. Wells was a longtime sportswriter at the Pioneer Press and is a member of the Canterbury Park Hall of Fame.

Photo Credit: Coady Photography

A New Face in Town

It is a long way from Canovanas, Puerto Rico to Shakopee, and for Carlos Castro the trip was more circuitous than is usually the case. It began in Philadelphia 11 years ago, detoured to Charles Town for a decade and then went to Chicago last year.

It was in Chicago that Castro was given the last leg of the trip that would lead him to Canterbury Park for the first time this summer.

It seems he was supposed to hook up with a fellow proposed as his agent in the Windy City but then something inexplicable occurred and the arrangement didn’t take place.

“I don’t know what it was, but he was supposed to be my agent and then something happened,” Castro recalled, detailing events in a clipped Puerto Rican accent.

Not to worry, the fellow in question would not hustle horses for Castro but he did have some advice a man could take to the bank: Give Canterbury Park in Minnesota a try; you’ll like it.

The fellow dishing out the advice?

The answer to that question is proposed in the form of the jockey quiz seen frequently on the giant screen in the infield:

A. Abraham Lincoln, former American president.

B. George W Bush, also a former president.

C. Pat Cuccurullo, former three-time training champ at Canterbury Park.

For those lagging behind, the correct answer is C, Pat Cuccurullo, who won training titles here from 1989 through 1991.

“He told me I would like it here,” Castro said Thursday night.

Was he right?

“Oh, yes, it is a very nice place,” Castro added.

Castro, 30, was here at the start of the meet, winning a race on opening day, but disappeared in the last month. He was off to an encouraging start but suffered a broken collar bone in a spill a month ago after getting off to an 8-8-8 start with 75 mounts.

He was back in the saddle on Thursday night after working some horses on Wednesday, when he tested his arm and shoulder and felt just fine. He couldn’t find a way to reach the winner’s circle in three mounts on Thursday, but got there in the first race on Friday, piloting a very tired Senorita Catrina in just ahead of Scrabblecat.

Castro likes Shakopee well enough that he worked diligently with Mother Nature to beat the worst case prognosis for his return by three weeks. “The doctor say that it be four to seven weeks,” Castro explained. “It was four.”

He wanted to make certain he had time this summer to establish a reputation at Canterbury and to make business contacts for next season. “I wanted people to know I am OK,” he added.

Racing horses apparently is in his blood. His father, Carlos, had a number of horses in Puerto Rico and Carlos, Jr., used to race against the neighborhood kids in the streets. His father told him since he liked racing so much he should go to jockey school. Carlos, jr. agreed.

If you are Puerto Rican and you want to be a professional rider, there is only one way. You must attend jockey school for two years.

Yet, there is no guarantee that will even occur. The odds, in fact, aren’t very good.

As Castro explained it, only 12 participants are chosen each year for the school from as many as 300 hopefuls.

He was one of the 12 the year he applied.

And the school is tough, demanding.

“You must weigh in every day,” Castro explained. “You must be 104 or less every day.”

A rider who exceeds that limit three times in two years gets the boot.

“Very tough,” Castro added.

School is in session six days a week, although Saturdays are limited to working horses in the morning. The rest of the week keeps a 5 a.m. to 2 p.m. schedule of grooming and working horses mornings and watching films of race riding that often depicts the dangerous aspect of riding afternoons. “They show you bad accidents, what can happen to jockeys,” Castro said.

Sounds a bit like driving safety classes in American high schools.

Castro has two brothers and a sister, but only he is involved in racing, although his father watches whenever his son is racing at a track with TVG coverage he can pick up in Puerto Rico.

Castro returns home to Puerto Rico whenever he can, although he now considers the U.S. his home. He has a wife, Stephanie, and eight-year-old, daughter, Carlena.

They visited earlier this summer and will return for another visit in the next week or two. Carlena quickly became enamored of Valley Fair. Stephanie had a preference for shopping at the Mall of America.

Although they have a home in Charlestown, Carlos hopes to make Shakopee his home during the summer months in the coming years.

This blog was written by Canterbury Staff Writer Jim Wells. Wells was a longtime sportswriter at the Pioneer Press and is a member of the Canterbury Park Hall of Fame.

Photo Credit: Coady Photography

The 2012 Jockey Colony

Several new faces join the Canterbury jockey colony this season and should fit well with the established riders that include Derek Bell, Dean Butler, Scott Stevens, Lori Keith et al.

Tanner Riggs makes his return to Shakopee and will be handled by agent Richard Grunder who also books mounts for Juan Rivera.

Larren Delorme moves to the big oval after riding regularly on the bullrings of Nebraska.

Geovanni Franco tied for third in the Turf Paradise standings in the recently concluded meet and should see plenty of action for trainer Miguel Silva who reportedly will have nearly 50 horses here.

Agent and former rider Chuck Costanzo adds Olaf Hernandez from Mountaineer to his stable of pilots that also includes bug-boy Denny Velazquez and a veteran who has not been here for some time, Bobby Walker Jr.

Jose Rivera Jr. is a New Mexico import who will share an agent with Luis Robletto.

While agent Pete Antonucci racks up wins with his rider Dean Butler, the early favorite to win his fourth consecutive riding title, he also will book mounts for Carlos Castro, a winner of 877 career races who most recently rode at Hawthorne.

This is hardly a complete list as many quarter horse jocks will arrive in the coming weeks as well.

Get to know your riders and the barns they work for as it can make a difference when handicapping.

This blog was written by Canterbury Media Relations Manager Jeff Maday. Maday has filled multiple positions including Media Relations and Player Relations Manager since the track’s reopening in 1995.

The 2012 Jockey Colony

Several new faces join the Canterbury jockey colony this season and should fit well with the established riders that include Derek Bell, Dean Butler, Scott Stevens, Lori Keith et al.

Tanner Riggs makes his return to Shakopee and will be handled by agent Richard Grunder who also books mounts for Juan Rivera.

Larren Delorme moves to the big oval after riding regularly on the bullrings of Nebraska.

Geovanni Franco tied for third in the Turf Paradise standings in the recently concluded meet and should see plenty of action for trainer Miguel Silva who reportedly will have nearly 50 horses here.

Agent and former rider Chuck Costanzo adds Olaf Hernandez from Mountaineer to his stable of pilots that also includes bug-boy Denny Velazquez and a veteran who has not been here for some time, Bobby Walker Jr.

Jose Rivera Jr. is a New Mexico import who will share an agent with Luis Robletto.

While agent Pete Antonucci racks up wins with his rider Dean Butler, the early favorite to win his fourth consecutive riding title, he also will book mounts for Carlos Castro, a winner of 877 career races who most recently rode at Hawthorne.

This is hardly a complete list as many quarter horse jocks will arrive in the coming weeks as well.

Get to know your riders and the barns they work for as it can make a difference when handicapping.

This blog was written by Canterbury Media Relations Manager Jeff Maday. Maday has filled multiple positions including Media Relations and Player Relations Manager since the track’s reopening in 1995.